Justice by the People
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Introduction

From Unit Plan: Justice by the People

Why Learn About Trial by Jury?

The Sixth and Seventh Amendments* to the United States Constitution guarantee all citizens the right to have their legal cases, criminal and civil, decided by a jury of their peers within the community. This fundamental right is rooted in both our history and our legal system. When juries speak, Winston Churchill once wrote, “law flows from the people.”

The more than five million Americans called for jury duty each year may determine guilt and innocence, safety and security, life and death. Jurors from all walks of life, through prudent deliberations, consider whether citizens have acted justly.

Many of today’s students will serve on juries someday. For most, it will be their principal way (other than voting) of participating directly in the democratic process. Jury duty will be an opportunity to offer great service, but also an awesome responsibility. The more jurors understand their role, the better they will be able to fulfill this responsibility.

Justice by the People brings the proud heritage of the American jury system directly to your classroom.

*Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

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