Civic Duty

Time and time again, I find people talking about how they dread receiving the letter in the mail calling them out for jury duty, and even worse, trying to wiggle their way out of it entirely.

Last month I completed my civic duty of serving jury duty in Orleans Criminal District Court. After my recent experience, I feel that rather than avoid it, I must urge everyone to participate in the process. I guarantee doing so will give you more respect for the legal system and you will walk away with a new appreciation for it.

It is one thing to engage online by commenting, sharing videos and articles about court proceedings and rulings, but another to engage in the process. By acting as a jury member, you are taking part in proceedings, helping shape the results and gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the system.

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In my four days of service I was selected to three jury pools, one being State vs. Hayes. Although I was not chosen to be among the final jurors in any case, I witnessed first hand the process and how the prosecution and defense identify prospective jurors.

In each of the jury pools, each team of prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office did a great job of walking us through the facts and questioning the jurors on relevant information to make sure the defense would have an unbiased jury and a fair trial.  I applaud Leon Cannizzaro and his team for this process.

So now, when you get the notice in the mail for jury duty, please do not look at it as a burden, but instead as an opportunity to serve your community, meet a cross-section of New Orleanians and learn more about our justice system to make a difference.

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Todd Matherne


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