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One Missouri citizen’s jury duty experience

In celebration of Jury Appreciation Week, we asked Columbia resident Zach Buckler to share about his experience serving on a jury. Learn more about the importance of jurors at MissouriLawyersHelp.org.

by Zach Buckler 

I have always been fascinated by the American system of democracy. We frequently learn in school and through the media that our system is the “best.” One can sometimes become numb to this notion and take for granted the freedoms and due process through the law that we as Americans enjoy, and which really make our system of government one of the best.

One prime example of that is jury duty. Though the phrase has a negative connotation for many as “government making me do something I don’t want to,” we should all take a moment to consider what the alternative would be if we were not judged by an impartial jury of our own peers.

I had the opportunity to serve on a jury in Boone County last summer. This was my first time reporting to serve on a jury, let alone actually being chosen. In short, the process gave me a much better picture of our legal system as well as a restored faith in the many good-hearted Boone County jurors with whom I served. We came from all walks of life and spanned different generations, but we were brought together to do our civic duty on behalf of our fellow citizens and for this there was a sense of pride in the group.

We observed a three-day criminal trial involving rape charges. Sitting through very personal and troubling testimony took its toll on many of the good-hearted people not expecting to spend the middle part of their week deep in such details.

During deliberation on sentencing, we spent six hours together going over every aspect of the facts and evidence presented to us to ensure we agreed that we were making the right decision according to the law as it was presented to us. I never once heard any derogatory, defamatory or bigoted remarks toward any of the people involved in the case. Everyone stuck to the facts.

People ought to be skeptical of a government that too easily or arbitrarily takes away the freedoms of its citizens. Doing so should never be an easy decision. The jury duty process injects an important, regulated, structured and reasonable process to these situations in which someone’s freedoms could be taken away. The jury duty process also gives a portion of this immense power of government directly back to the people. For that, we should be thankful and glad to do our part in upholding an important pillar of our government of the people, by the people and for the people.

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