How to Avoid Jury Duty in the United States
Katie Couric at the 2008 New York Juror Appreciation Day at the New York County Courthouse
Avoiding Jury Duty
This sounds like this will be about something that is legal but not ethical or moral. But that is not the case. It is a challenge to a basic belief of most Americans. The book In Spite Of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases says that some 400 innocent Americans were falsely convicted of capital crimes. Do you want to be responsible for that?
This applies to criminal cases not civil cases that are only about money, not prison. I have used this for state and federal jury duty a few times for each. But whenever they dismiss me for a criminal case I am usually sent home since it is late in the day. But I would not mind being on jury duty for a civil case. This was written January 3, 2013.
Now at one jury duty gig, the judge's assistant said to us (he was the only one I heard say this), that to not try to get out of jury duty on your religious or personal beliefs since this judge never dismisses anyone for this reason. I of course knew that this was a lie. Then after that the judge quickly dismissed me for my personal beliefs.
First a little history. All the land in Pennsylvania used to be owned by William Penn. The king of England gave him this land to repay a loan from his father. A statue of William Penn is on top of City Hall in Philadelphia and used to be higher than any building. Note that I am not a Christian but I am a fan of Jesus Christ.
William Penn was a Christian but specifically a Quaker. Wikipedia says:
Quakers, or Friends, are members of a family of religious movements which collectively are known as either the Friends Church, or the Religious Society of Friends. Friends' central doctrine is the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine which is derived from the Biblical passage 1 Peter 2:9. [But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.]
Quakers never do jury duty for criminal cases. Why? It is clear that the beliefs of the Jews are different than the views of Jesus. For example the Old Testament says "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." When people were following Jewish law (I am a Jew), they were going to stone a lady. But Jesus said "He who is without sin, can throw the first stone." Then a woman threw a stone and Jesus said "Stop showing off Mom!" The last part is a joke that I like.
There are many examples of Jesus demonstrating that a person should not hurt another person. As far as the Indian belief of karma, what you give is what you get. Jesus said "as you sow, so shall you reap." "If someone strikes you, turn so he can strike you on the other cheek." So Quakers believe that Jesus taught to leave the punishment of humans up to God since He is much better at it than you.
How many times has God punished innocent people. In the above man has done it over 400 times with a capital case that is the highest penalty of either execution or life in prison. So when the judge asks me what is my personal belief against jury duty, I tell him that I do not believe in man punishing man as Jesus has clearly taught. I expound on this a little.
But Americans do not want to trust God to take care of that even though most Americans are Christians. Wikipedia says:
The majority of Americans (73%) identify themselves as Christians and about 20% have no religious affiliation.
Less than 2% of Americans are Jews. Now the judge does this in private away from other jurors since he does not want all the jurors to say that they do not want any part of them judging others ("Judge ye not, unless ye be judged").
As a greater issue, what if man stopped punishing man, would you start breaking the law? Would you start hurting people? I bet that many would say "no" but that will not stop others. Well we do punish man and the crimes continue. If man did not punish man what would happen to Adam Lanza, gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut? Actually the same thing. He killed himself or at least that is what the news reports. I have seen some things that disagree with that.
Atheists are only supposed to make up 10% of Americans although an atheist can belief in an invisible force of justice like karma. So beyond what Jesus teaches I do not want to make a mistake if it sends an innocent person to jail. Mistakes are good since that is how people learn. But I do not want to send an innocent person to jail.
Also what if a 7 year old girl is sexually abused by her father who rapes her many times. Then later on she kills him in cold blood, breaking the law. I do not want to send her to jail for breaking the law! Do you? Also remember that at one time, if you freed a black slave, you broke the law and were a criminal. I guess the charge would be stealing but I am not a lawyer so I cannot give legal adivce. If I were a lawyer I could tell you that it is against the law to give legal advice if your are not a lawyer, but I cannot say that since I am not a lawyer.
Also the emotion that is asociated with punishing people is hate or anger. That is also the emotions that are associated with many crimes. Adam Lanza (gunman at the elementary school) did not do what he did since he was interested in stealing so he could have more money. He did not do what he did because he felt love and happiness.