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Jury Quotes to Help You Understand the Who, What, Why and More

These Jury quotes will give you more familiarity and understanding about a concept that many argue is a cornerstone of American democracy.

Why are juries so important?

When the U.S. was founded, its creators felt a trial by a jury of one’s peers was so important that they needed to include it in their Constitution, hence Amendments 6 and 7 in the Bill of Rights.

Jury duty is part of America’s system of “checks and balances” giving the judicial equal power to the executive and legislative branches of government. Ideally, jury service is the citizen’s chance to have a voice in the judicial branch.

This system was designed to stop tyranny (when one person or group exerts absolute power) by giving the power of the final verdict to the people in the jury room.

What do you think about jury duty? Have you ever been called to serve?

Don’t forget to also check out these justice quotes that illustrate the importance of Fairness

Jury Quotes By Judges

1. “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” –Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice 1804 signer of The Declaration of Independence.

2. “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” – Chief Justice John Jay, U.S. Supreme Court Georgia v Brailsford (3 Dallas 1, 1794)

3. “The jury has….”unreviewable and irreversible power…to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.” –U.S. vs. DOUGHERTY (1972)

4. “The pages of history shine on instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge.” – U.S. v. DOUGHERTY (1972)

5. “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both the law and the facts.”- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Horning v. District of Columbia, (1920)

6. “A right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants in order to prevent oppression by the Government.” – Justice Byron White (1968)

7. “If the defendant preferred the common-sense judgment of a jury to the more tutored but perhaps less sympathetic reaction of the single judge, he was to have it.” – Justice Byron White (1968)

8. “Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge.”- Justice Byron White (1968)

Jury Quotes By Politicians

9. “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.”- Thomas Jefferson

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10. “We have a Bill of Rights, we have trial by jury. We have a notion that you are – you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. We have all these things.”- Joe Biden

11. “It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.“ – John Adams, 1771

12. “Trial by jury is part of that bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.”- Thomas Jefferson

13. “Jurors should acquit, even against the judge’s instruction…if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.” – Alexander Hamilton, 1804

14. “There was not a member of the Constitutional Convention who had the least objection to what is contended for by the advocates for a Bill of Rights and trial by jury.”- George Washington

15. “The wisdom of our ages and the blood of our heroes has been devoted to the attainment of trial by jury. It should be the creed of our political faith.”- Thomas Jefferson

16. “That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.”- George Mason

17. “The new Constitution has secured these [individual rights] in the Executive and Legislative departments: but not in the Judiciary. It should have established trials by the people themselves, that is to say, by jury.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1789

Jury Quotes By Writers

18. “I vote and I do jury duty.”- Christopher Hitchens

19. “A jury is composed of twelve men of average ignorance.”- Herbert Spencer

20. “A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”- Robert Frost

21. “Loyalty is that for the lack of which your gang will shoot you without benefit of trial by jury.”- Robert Frost

22. “Trial by jury. Live wherever you can make a living. How could a government based on such principles fail?”- Stephen Ambrose

23. “When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.”-Norm Crosby

24. “A jury is the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice “Only Lawyers and mental defectives are automatically exempt for jury duty.”- George Bernard Shaw

25. that human wisdom could contrive.” – Mark Twain

26. “The jury system was somewhat of an anomaly, like everything else in the law.” ― Kenneth G. Eade, HOA Wire

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27. “There were eleven votes for “guilty.” It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.”― Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men

28. “Emotions are reserved for juries and, in that case, a good lawyer can really lay them on when the time is right, better than the best Academy Award winning actor.” ― Kenneth Eade, Predatory Kill

29. “You never know with juries. I’d take a judge every time, unless of course I was guilty.” ― Kenneth Eade, Unreasonable Force

30. “A jury verdict is just a guess – a well-intentioned guess, generally, but you simply cannot tell fact from fiction by taking a vote.” ― William Landay, Defending Jacob

31. “We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read.”– Mark Twain

32. “The jury’s still out on your level of intellect. After all, you signed up with Evil Incorporated in the first place.” ― Katherine McIntyre, Scrying for Summer

33. “Trial by jury is the palladium of our liberties. I do not know what a palladium is, but I am sure it is a good thing!” – Mark Twain

34. “Along with voting, jury duty, and paying taxes, goofing off is one of the central obligations of American citizenship.”- Sarah Vowell

35. “Trial by jury is a wise distribution of power which exceeds all other modes of trial.”- Edward Coke

36. “No, Peters, it’s all perfectly clear except a reason for doing it. But you know juries when it comes to women.” ― Susan Glaspell, A Jury Of Her Peers

37. “The jury is supposed to be twelve peers, but technically that would mean every single person on the jury should have Asperger’s syndrome, because then they’d really understand me.” ― Jodi Picoult, House Rules

38. “A jury is always a more orthodox body than any defendant brought before it; for blacks it is usually a whiter group, for poor people, a more prosperous group.”- Howard ZinnYou Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

39. “Another lesson about the justice system: the way the judge charges the jury inevitably pushes them one way or the other, limits their independent judgment.” ― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

40. “Petty juries, consisting usually of twelve men, attend courts to try matters of fact in civil causes, and to decide both the law and the fact in criminal prosecutions. The decision of a petty jury is called a verdict.”– Noah Webster, Dictionary of the English Language, 1828

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41. “In any nation in which people’s rights have been subordinated to the rights of the few, in any totalitarian nation, the first institution to be dismantled is the jury. I was, I am, afraid.” –Gerry Spence

Jury Quotes By Comedians

42. “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”- Groucho Marx

43. “I got put on jury duty, which is where I learned how to write.”- David O. Russell

44. “Getting out of jury duty is easy. The trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races”- Dan Castellaneta

45. “To me, political office should be like jury duty. You should just get a notice in the mail one day and say, ‘Aw, sh – , I’m secretary of state next month.” – Wanda Sykes

46. “Life is like jury duty. Just do it and get it over with.”- Dana Gould

47. “Life is a tragedy filled with suffering and despair and yet some people do manage to avoid jury duty.”- Woody Allen

48. “You might be a redneck if you missed 5th-grade graduation because you had jury duty.”- Jeff Foxworthy

49. “Good-looking individuals are treated better than homely ones in virtually every social situation, from dating to trial by jury.”- Martha Beck

50. “Some people try to get out of jury duty by lying. You don’t have to lie. Tell the judge the truth. Tell him you’d make a terrific juror because you can spot guilty people.”- George Carlin

What did you learn from these jury quotes?

We are taught that jury duty is a part of civic participation and that it is an esteemed and honored responsibility for all citizens.

Are you the type of person who gets excited over the opportunity to serve on a jury or are you the type to do whatever it takes to get out of jury duty?

A YouGov America poll suggests that about 34% of the country has never been summoned for jury duty. Yet, “Of the 61% who have been summoned, nearly nine-tenths of them (87%) responded to the summons.”

It seems most Americans have a favorable view of jury duty. However, in today’s globalized digital world, it is natural for potential jurors to be hesitant to participate in this civic duty. Personal and family safety as well as identity safety concerns immediately pop up.

Would you want to serve on a jury? What’s your biggest takeaway from these jury quotes and sayings? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Clifton Sankofa
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