In a recent opinion piece shared on LinkedIn, United States Department of Justice Attorney Cedric Bond delves into the significance of juries in the American justice system. He highlights the constitutional right of the accused to a trial by an impartial jury and emphasizes the crucial role these juries play in rendering moral judgments and expressing public condemnation for crimes.
Bond acknowledges that some may view the duties associated with jury service as an inconvenience or even consider them “a relic of medieval civic duty.” However, he firmly asserts that this right stands firm and unmovable in the pantheon of rights within the American justice system.
The attorney poses an intriguing question: why do we entrust the weighty responsibility of judging the guilt or innocence of a fellow human and declaring the public’s moral condemnation for crimes to lay juries? His answer is simple yet profound. Bond believes that “We the People,” the collective public, are inherently better at making moral judgments and expressing public opprobrium than lawyers or judges.
According to Bond, the requirement of a jury in every criminal prosecution arises from the notion that ordinary citizens possess the ability to objectively apply common sense, reason, and good judgment to the evidence presented in a trial. He contends that the “common man” is not ordinary at all but rather possesses inherent dignity, incalculable worth, and a rational mind.
While acknowledging that mistakes can occur within any human justice system, Bond maintains that juries are no more prone to error than lawyers. He argues that lawyers may have a firm grasp of the law, but juries, with the guidance of the judge and lawyers, have the ability to apply their common sense in line with the law.
The attorney does not dismiss the potential for injustice when juries make mistakes, such as acquitting the guilty against the evidence or convicting the innocent. However, he asserts that such injustices harm the public and are an inevitable part of any justice system administered by fallible humans.
Bond concludes his opinion piece by expressing his desire for others to experience the privilege of serving on a jury. As a lawyer and law enforcement officer, he is unable to serve on juries himself, but he assures readers that when he stands before a jury, he will express his gratitude for their service.
In summary, Cedric Bond’s opinion piece reflects on the enduring importance of juries in the American justice system. He champions the ability of ordinary citizens to make moral judgments and emphasizes that juries, with their common sense and rationality, are often better equipped to determine guilt or innocence than lawyers or judges.