In the Record's annual tribute to people who make a significant impact on fairness in the Third Circuit, this year we select a host of individuals. The Record salutes the good citizens of Madison County who have dutifully given their time, attention and commitment to jury service.
The 2007 Persons of the Year are Madison County Jurors.
In spite of the meager per diem pittance they receive in exchange for devoting days, sometimes weeks to being vital cogs in our justice system, these citizens with very little recognition hear evidence and make important decisions for the sake of duty.
For years the Madison County Courthouse has suffered the embarrassment of being named among the worst jurisdictions in the nation in terms of fairness in civil cases.
Never was it because of the people.
Until this year, not many major civil cases had actually gone to trial. As we have reported over the years on civil litigation including asbestos, class actions and personal injury lawsuits, these types of cases were usually settled before going to jury.
Given the opportunity to render impartial verdicts on matters that can involve complex theories or horrific details, Madison County jurors have done a remarkable job. They have been fair to victims and their accused.
We thank them for their reasonableness. We thank them for the confidence their service has instilled in the public. We especially thank them for making the lawyers who file lawsuits prove their claims.
Our civilization has decided that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted to trained men. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up its specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round...
--Gilbert K. Chesterton