Taunya Painter speaks to high school seniors about jury service
On October 15, 2013, attorney Taunya Painter appeared at Houston's Westfield High School to speak about Americans' right to a jury trial and our duty to jury service. Her talk was part of a Houston Bar Association initiative, and focused on how jury service can be fun and rewarding, but also how minorities serving on a jury can make it more fair and representative of our communities and of those filing lawsuits.
Mrs. Painter talked to hundreds of high school seniors about how the U.S. Constitution gives us all a right to a trial by jury in criminal and civil matters: “If the State alleges you committed a crime, you can ask for a trial by jury. Also, if someone does something wrong to you and injures you, and you want to sue them for money, you can ask for a trial by jury.” She added, “What we really want is a fair trial by our ‘peers’ or people who we think can not only comprehend the evidence presented but also our perspective.”
She challenged the seniors, as they turn 18 years old and get their first jury summons. “Around 80 percent of the people who get summoned to serve for jury duty, do not show up. Harris County is diverse, but our juries do not generally reflect that diversity.” The Houston Chronicle did a story on how minorities and lower-income people are not proportionately represented on juries, because they are not showing up to serve proportionally.
Then she made it personal: “Someday, you may need to file a lawsuit and you will want your fair day in court. Remember that when you get your jury summons. Do not ignore it. Go serve. Help make our juries in Harris County representative of our communities.”
Robert Painter is an attorney and member of Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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