Jury Summons

Jury Summons

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apparently I Would Be a Bad Juror Because I’m Not Married, Don’t Pay a Mortgage, and Like Beyonce

On the October 21st broadcast of Fox News’ “The Five,” co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle discouraged young women from serving on juries. She stated, “Young women on juries are not a good idea…They don’t get it! They’re not in the same, like, life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, health care.” When another co-host said that young women have every right to serve on juries, Guilfoyle answered with I just thank and excuse them, so they can go back on Tinder or Match.com.” As a young female, I found these comments highly offensive and ignorant. As a future lawyer, I would not mind have many of my young women peers serve on a jury as we are just as capable of being impartial jurors as any other generation eligible for the civic duty.

In my opinion, my fellow young millenials (women in particular) are more open-minded to differing views and less racist than our parent’s and grandparent’s generations. We have also faced our fair share of adversity including war and a recession hitting during our years of obtaining employment, a situation that has forced many to take on early responsibility while being thrifty and creative enough to get by on the few opportunities that were available. Not to mention that we are the first generation that is expected to balance each and every activity and extracurricular, now accessible by both sexes, including a number of experiences that our elder fellow eligible jurors may never have dreamed of. All of these experiences have shaped our abilities to render verdicts when called by our country to serve as jurors.

Just because I do not pay a mortgage, have children, or have a husband, does not mean I am not aware of the issues that those in my community face. It does not mean that I do not have the same concerns about safety, or that I would be more or less harsh on a company being sued for damages simply because I have less equity and savings than a 45 year old woman. My want to sympathize, or lack thereof, with a certain plaintiff or defendant will most likely only vary slightly from any other person on the jury, and my attitudes will be a reflection of my life experiences and what has influenced me rather than my age, gender, or appreciation for social media and pop culture. Also, why do only young women make poor jurors or voters? How do any of my male peers have any more responsibility or ability to make decisions?

Does a jury made up of middle aged and elderly people make any more sense? How can they use their common sense and experiences to judge a young criminal defendant or less worldly civil plaintiff or defendant any better than a young person? My entire life I have felt that adults looked down on me as a younger person and would not give my ideas as much value as they may have deserved. My hopes in attending law school were that this sense of injustice would be lessened in the legal world, however it is comments like Ms. Guilfoyle’s that only perpetuate this idea and will turn my young women peers off from serving as a juror if they are going to be looked down upon or dismissed simply because they grew up with N’Sync instead of The Beatles. Our job as lawyers should be to encourage jury service so that we have the largest number of qualified jurors to choose from and we should be choosing them based on their attitudes and life experiences rather than their demographics.

Another Fox News commentator also spoke about young women and termed them “Beyonce” voters (because they are single ladies) since they tend to be more liberal and because they depend on the government since they are not depending on husbands. Aside from the sexist nature of this comment, by focusing only on their age, marital status, and gender, lawyers, judges, or politicians would be ignoring the vast complexity of these women’s lives and short-changing their ability to serve as impartial jurors or as competent voters. There has also been much discussion regarding the changing demographics of jurors in New York, specifically Brooklyn, that has led to the term “hipster juror” who is a more well-off, educated, “law and order” type. Defense lawyers are up in arms because these jurors will not have the experiences to identify with their poor minority defendants. But, do we want jurors to get to the truth, or just be "pro defendant"?  What is missing is any call for justice and truth.”

I know that I am not the prototypical young female potential juror, however I still believe that lawyers should take a lot more than our appreciation for Taylor Swift and Snapchat into account when deciding if we could take the job of being a juror seriously.

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed and horrified at those quotes. Great post!