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I Am Proud Of Our System

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By:  Daniel M. Kotin

I was summoned for jury duty in the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division last week.  Although my service lasted only four hours, it was a good experience and it inspired me about our justice system, which happens to provide the foundation for my career.

My first exposure to the process involved watching the educational video which is played to everyone in the holding room who responded to their jury summons.  Not only was I surprised by how accurate and informative the short video was, but I was also impressed by the fact that most of the other citizens sitting in the room appeared engaged and interested in what they were watching.

Thirty-six of us were then taken to a courtroom where we were greeted by an impressive judge and two competent, veteran trial lawyers (both of whom I have known for years).  The voir dire (jury selection) questioning was fair. The dispute in the case (relating to the causal connection between a knee injury and a car crash) appeared legitimate.  All potential jurors were treated respectfully by the lawyers as well as the court staff.  Everyone seemed determined not to waste our time.

In the end, I was not selected for the jury.  This was no surprise.  The defense attorney later explained that although he believed I would have been a good juror for his case, he could not afford the scrutiny he would have received from his client if he had seated a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer on the jury and then wound up on the losing end of a big verdict.

I learned the next day that trial had already been completed.  The jury verdict, as explained to me, seemed very appropriate.  My brief time as a “temporary officer of the court” was a very positive experience, and I feel that those ultimately selected for the jury probably felt the same way.  That was my most significant, lasting impression.  Nobody on the jury seemed burdened by the responsibility.  Instead, they all seemed accepting of their civic duty.

Being the trial lawyer that I am, I'll likely never have the opportunity to actually sit as a juror and decide a case.  But my brief experience for four hours last week made me proud of our system and honored to be part of it.

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