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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002


Words to choke on

"I donít believe in our laws."

This stunning statement is one believed to be a sure-fire way to get excused from jury duty. Itís an excuse that should be extremely rare, not common. Yet, it was offered up several times recently in district court proceedings.

Itís an excuse that should inspire derision, not respect, if used for the sole purpose of dodging the duty. Conscience is one thing; shirking is another.

Itís true, the nation has been squabbling over particular laws since the drafting of the Constitution. Two hundred years later, the squabbling shows little sign of abating. District court judges regularly see jurors who say they disagree with certain laws. Thatís to be expected.

Yet, itís one thing to disagree with specific laws. Itís another to disagree with all of them, while living as a citizen who reaps their benefits. In the wake of the Sept.11 attack and the war on terror, itís worse than hypocritical.

The terrorists operated openly within a society protected by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution while they plotted and executed an act of war. They were protected from unreasonable search and seizure. They were guaranteed the free practice of religion, free speech and due process.

These protections were the things the terrorists sought to destroyóthe very underpinnings of American culture.

Itís ironic, isnít it, that the same Bill of Rights that protects the right of jury duty dodgers to disagree with the nationís laws is the same document that guarantees the right to a trial by jury.

Thereís never a good time to be on jury duty. It requires potential jurors to show up when called over a period of months. It requires missing hours, days and perhaps weeks at work or home. The small stipend paid to jurors hardly makes up for time lost on the job or at home.

The sacrifice extends to others as well. Family schedules may be disrupted. Small companies may have to scramble to cover the responsibilities of absent staff members.

But the sacrifice is small. Post-Sept. 11, Americans realize more than ever that freedom isnít free. Some give their lives for it. Others give only their time. Itís little enough given that jury duty is a whole lot safer than combat duty.

The good news is that most citizens fulfill jury duty with pride. Most come away from jury service with renewed faith in the legal system and hope for the country. Most do the duty, knowing they are doing their part to make freedom work.

People who want to skip out on jury duty should think hard before uttering "I donít believe in our laws." They are words not to be uttered in haste. They are words that should choke every American.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.