YOU GOT SUMMONED
by Sumter County Judge Paul L. Militello
You walked to your mailbox and for the first time ever, received a jury summons. What can you expect, and why should you care?
WHY A PUBLIC JURY TRIAL?
The US Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in both the sixth and seventh amendments, part of the Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers were concerned with tyranny and oppression in government. Part of the genius of our Constitution is the checks and balances of power. A trial by jury is the ultimate check on the power of the Judicial Branch.
WHAT IS THE DUTY OF THE JUDGE AND THE JURY IN A TRIAL?
The duties of the judge and the jury are distinct, and they do not overlap. This is one of the fundamental principles in our justice system. The jury listens to the testimony and evidence in the case to determine what happened. They determine what the true facts are by using their common sense, deciding which witnesses are believable, and which evidence should not be relied upon. They determine the facts.
The judge, on the other hand, makes sure that both sides follow the rules of evidence. The judge also determines which laws apply to the case and instructs the jury on the laws that apply. The jury then applies the law they have been given to the facts to decide on the verdict.
HOW LONG WILL THE TRIAL LAST?
The vast majority of trials in Sumter County are usually resolved in one to two days. The jury selection usually takes place on the Monday of the trial week with the trial taking place on another day of the same week.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Jury duty is one of the few times YOU can give back to our Country. The teamwork of Judge and Jury protects our rights and liberties. By working together, they put into practice the principles of our great heritage of freedom.