The Call of Duty

Read this thoughtful article written by Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz for the Clark County Bar journal COMMUNIQUÉ (May 2024)

By Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz

About a month ago, I received a jury duty summons in the mail. (Yes—even judges can get summoned). The first thought I had was not a favorable one and was almost a knee-jerk, negative one. But then I stopped and asked myself why I was thinking that way. Am I not an attorney and judge who has done jury trials? Am I not someone who understands how challenging it is to get people to actively participate in our justice system through jury service? I had sufficient time to adjust my schedule and make plans for appearing, going through the selection process, and serving if selected. I have a position with the flexibility where I can do that, and jury service would be in the very courthouse where I work each day. So why all the negative thoughts?

Everyone I spoke to seemed to impart that this was something I needed to explore “getting out of.” I thought about the various excuses prospective jurors have given me, as both an attorney and judge, as to why they cannot serve. Those people also were given weeks of notice, so they, too, could work on adjustments to their schedule or even request a postponement. So why do we all have this angst about jury service? Is it just that we do not like our routines shifted for a short period of time? Are our days so full that shifting to another schedule on a temporary basis is too stressful? I wonder if it is the word “duty” that causes the problem.

Perhaps, we should emphasize the word “service” over “duty” and realize that we are giving back to our community by sitting on a jury. Perhaps, we should remember that sitting on a jury is a cherished right provided to us in our Constitution. Maybe, we should recognize that sitting on a jury is a privilege that some countries do not offer.

I began telling people that I had jury duty and noting that a summons was not a bad thing.

My day to appear was the same day I wrote this article. Following the instructions, I called last night to check on my jury status. The jury system told me that I was not required to appear. This means that I have a few days to catch up on matters on my desk since I had moved all my meetings. So, in essence, my jury duty summons ended up being a good thing, not a negative thing.

The next time I receive a jury summons, I will approach it positively and as an honor for me to serve my community.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, trial by jury is “the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution.”

About the author

Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz was elected to Las Vegas Justice Court Department 5 in 2012 and re-elected in 2018.

About the article

© 2024 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

This article was originally published in the Communiqué (May. 2024), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2024/communique-may-2024.

The articles and advertisements appearing in Communiqué magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CCBA, the CCBA Publications Committee, the editorial board, or the other authors. All legal and other issues discussed are not for the purpose of answering specific legal questions. Attorneys and others are strongly advised to independently research all issues.

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