History of Jury Duty

Courtroom-898931_640I’m on call for jury duty, and while I wouldn’t mind sitting through a trial, this kind of thing never comes at a convenient time. We ought to be able to pick our jury weeks!

Anyway, I thought I’d see how long we’ve been plugged into a jury system. Basically, we know the Athenians around 507 BCE, with their democratic system, did everything by the people. Juries of 500 men (of course) were selected every day to rule on criminal and civil accusations and crimes. Sounds like they had complaining neighbors and teen hoodlums aplenty even back then.

A more modern form of this was developed by Germanic tribes where they chose men of good character to investigate crimes (the beginning of the idea of a grand jury) and judge the accused (petit jury).

The Saxons adopted a similar system by 978 AD. One of Alfred the Great’s Dooms (laws) required that 12 men from every 100 were to accuse perpetrators of crimes and pass judgment on them. So without a police force, juries acted as the law—the perfect occupation for the busybody sorts.

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