Friday, September 5, 2008

Confessions of a 'rogue' juror

by Thomas L. Eddlem

During jury service earlier this year I sat in a judge’s robing chambers and was asked to take an oath that I expect no juror in American history was ever asked to take before or since:

"Would you be able to set aside your own reading of the Constitution, the judge’s past instructions, and judge the facts based solely upon the judge’s explanation of the law?"
The judge, U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young took 43-pages in a court memorandum last month to call me a "rogue" for not taking this unusual oath.

I’m not always the quickest on my feet, but on the drive home from the courthouse that day I thought a clever reply would have been: "Other than the actual words that are written in the Constitution, what words would you have me substitute when I think of the Constitution?" I wouldn’t have given him such a smart-alec reply even if I had thought of it at the time, though, as I was worried about a contempt of court charge. I stayed polite.

For more on this commentary, go to Also, to find out more about the rights and powers juries have in the legal system, visit the Fully Informed Jury Association.

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