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The duty of a citizen

This morning I answered a summons to serve as a Juror in the trial courts of the Commonwealth. I was fortunate to be assigned to the Concord courts: well-appointed, with clean bathrooms and broad windows. It was nicer than my last experience, in Lowell. I’m told Lowell is nicer still than Cambridge.

In the short informative video which started off the morning, we discovered that Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court has a very great friend in Rome. But the rest of the talk was mildly useful, reminding everybody what reasonable doubt means. It never did explain why some juries are six and some twelve.

I was empanelled on a Jury in a domestic violence case. The defense threw out all the women on the jury. The trial then lasted all of fifteen minutes: opening statements, then twenty words of testimony from the first witness. As soon as the defendant saw that she was actually willing to testify that he’d hit her, he caved. The plea bargain took another hour, then they let us go.

It’s nice to see the system working so well. This seems to be exactly what ought to have happened in an adversarial system.