Friday, January 11, 2008

A Case Of The Clash Of Rights With Liberties...

I have just read the most fascinating article which raises an interesting question from my perspective. When the right to a speedy and fair trial of your peers conflicts with the right of your peers to live their daily lives without being molested by the law for no fault of their own, which one should win out. I may have made up the right to be unmolested by the law, but if that is not a right, it should be one... I think the prohibition against illegal seizure of persons should qualify in the following circumstance as reported by the N.Y. Times:
Judge Eaton, of Caledonia District Court in St. Johnsbury, Vt., had an accused child molester to try and too few good-people-and-true on hand to pick a jury from. So he sent the county sheriff and his deputies out to three locations in town — outside the post office, the local Price Chopper supermarket and the Green Mountain Mall — to bring ‘em back alive.

They stopped passers-by and asked if they were residents of Caledonia County; a “yes” answer won a summons to appear at the courthouse for jury duty immediately, right now, this minute. They rounded up 45 people that way in all, to join the 34 already at the courthouse.
Seriously? Simply being a resident was reason enough to demand immediate disruption of the citizens life, with a summons to appear in court for no other reason than the Judge needing a jury, and the prospective juror being in the wrong place at the wrong time? What if a parent were expected to pick up a child later in the day? Just imagine the multitude of circumstances which were not given any consideration whatsoever beyond whether or not the person lived in the right county.

The story goes onto describe how impressing jurors on the spot actually is more common that one might suppose. The reporter found several other cases, and even rulings on the practice by various jurisdictions, with the Indiana Supreme Court banning the practice in that state, but a Pennsylvania appellate court recently ruling that impressing jurors on the spot was legal.

I have been called for jury duty once in my adult life, and the entire pool was sent home immediately after court convened for lack of cases. I would gladly respond positively to the next summons to appear and serve on a jury if selected... assuming that summons to appear was not being handed out on the street by a sheriff with instructions to drop the rest of the day for jury duty.

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