Our judicial system is based on defendants being tried before a jury of their peers.
It is designed to ensure life or liberty can’t be taken away without due process of law.
The police or government can’t just pick you up and hide you away in a prison.
However, justice can’t be served if Muskogee County can’t find enough jurors to conduct trials.
In the most recent two-week trial docket, only 110 people responded to 550 jury summonses.
That is so low that some trials had to be delayed until the next trial docket in February.
Justice delayed is justice denied — that’s another concept upon which our justice system was founded.
Defendants have a right to a speedy trial.
That’s something that can’t happen if people in Muskogee County dodge jury duty.
Some potential jurors may have moved out of the county.
Some may have passed away.
Some may have a legitimate reason to ask to be excused.
However, there are some who just ignored the summons.
Maybe they knew that ignoring the summons does not trigger punishment. There are no fines to be paid or no jail time to serve.
Potential jurors should answer the summons.
They should want to be a part of a system that is the best in the world.
It can’t work without the participation of citizens.
If citizens won’t bother to be part of the jury trial system, we are denying each other a constitutional right that many have defended with their lives.
The answer to the problem in Muskogee County is not just mailing more summons if people won’t respond.