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Please arrive early; court commences at 9:00 a.m.
Ground Floor, Courthouse Annex
County Court at Law
Second Floor, Courthouse
Monday, April 24
IF YOUR DATE AND JUDGE FOR JURY SERVICE ARE MARKED IN YELLOW AND SAYS, "CANCELED" YOU DO NOT NEED TO RESPOND OR APPEAR
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
Shouldn’t our reaction be one of excitement, even anticipation? Next to voting, jury service is one of our most important civic duties. This is your opportunity to actively participate in the American judicial system — an opportunity that should not be taken for granted. We are fortunate that both our national and state Constitutions guarantee each citizen the right to an impartial trial by a jury of our peers. Many places in this world are still not afforded such a right. And, not so long ago, not all citizens of this country were afforded that basic right.
Jury service has evolved over the centuries, with its beginnings dating back as far as ancient Greece and Egypt. But our present jury system derives from the writing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215. That important document included the following statement: “No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... unless by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.” This concept of a trial by jury took root in England and was transferred here with the establishment of the American colonies.
Of course, we must remember that a trial by jury at the time extended only so far, so a true “jury of one’s peers” didn’t apply to certain segments of our society until fairly recently. Even with the end of slavery, African-Americans did not regularly serve on juries until after the Civil Rights Act. Similarly with women. Even though women gained the right to vote in 1920, women were not regularly seen on juries until the 1960s. Persons with disabilities also face challenges to their ability to participate in the jury process. And the process — and those participating in the justice system — must continue to evolve to allow full participation of all citizens.
Our justice system is not perfect. Regardless, it is looked upon as an ideal by many parts of the world. We, the people, in a true expression of democracy, have the opportunity to impart justice on our fellow citizens. We, the people, act as a check on our justice system by ensuring a fair trial. The verdict doesn’t rest with a solitary judge, a tribunal, or a military junta.
But for our system to work, we must participate. That means, when you receive that jury summons, fill out the questionnaire and go to the courthouse for the selection process. Put aside the annoyance of having to rearrange your schedule for a few days and participate in this important civic process. Granted, there are those who face legitimate barriers to serving, but the court does provide certain remedies and exemptions for these instances.
In the end, jurors who serve end up, if not enjoying the experience, gaining an appreciation for the American justice system and their role in it. So, when you receive your call to serve, do so with pride knowing your participation in the justice system does count.
Bastrop County Courthouse
804 Pecan Street
Bastrop, TX 78602
Phone: (512) 581-7100
Copyright © Bastrop County, Texas 2016. All rights reserved.
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