Americans Fight Terrorism From the Jury Box

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


After September 11, many Americans were compelled to give blood, write checks to the Red Cross, or even to join the military as a way of serving the country. Apparently, though, an awful lot of us were also moved to show up for jury duty. This revelation comes courtesy of U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young, who recently addressed the Florida Bar Association on the death of the jury trial. Young noted that nationwide data (which he unfortunately didn’t cite) show that Americans turned up for jury service in record numbers in the year after the towers fell.

Young is most famous recently for sentencing shoebomber Richard Reid by telling him “You’re no big deal,” but his speech (recently posted here) is an amazing–and rare–love song to the American jury that’s worth a read. Along with some harsh words for Congress for suspending habeas corpus, there are some interesting observations about the state of the federal judiciary, including this one:

In 1988, the average time a federal judge spent actually sitting on the bench each year was 790 hours. In FY 2005, that number had fallen to 437, of which only 225 hours were spent overseeing trials. So what are the judges doing all day if not on the bench?

“Litigation management,” said Young. “Hardly a shining vision, is it?”

(H/T Consumer Law and Policy Blog)

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate