Helping Jurors Understand Their Role in “Liberty and Justice for All”


Vol. 107 No. 1 (2023) | Toward Fairer, Quicker, Cheaper Litigation | Download PDF Version of Article

A new video aims to help jurors understand their work as an essential part of our democracy.

The five-minute video, “Liberty and Justice for All,” was funded by the ABOTA Foundation and coproduced by the National Association of Women Judges Judicial Independence Committee and its Informed Voters/Fair Judges Project. It is an updated and enhanced version of a widely used 2013 video, “Fair and Free,” which was narrated by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and won an Emmy Award in 2014 for public service.

“Our hope is that courts will share this video with jurors as part of their orientation programs,” said retired North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson, co-chair of the NAWJ Judicial Independence Committee and Informed Voter Project. “The video helps jurors understand the history and role of the courts in our democracy and emphasizes that the courts don’t make decisions based on what’s popular or politically advantageous, but on the law alone.

“Jury service is perhaps the best civic education opportunity Americans can have,” Hudson added, “and this video helps locate that opportunity within the bigger picture of equality and justice for all.”

The video features people of varying backgrounds and ethnicities, highlighting both the diversity of the American public and the unifying cause of justice under the law. It’s important, Hudson said, for jurors to understand that all Americans play a role in ensuring that our justice system works.

“Serving on a jury is both an honor and a duty,” the video says. “The Constitution trusts us all with a profound responsibility to make sure we have fair trials for everyone. Because when judges and jurors decide cases fairly and impartially, then, and only then, do we bring to life these founding principles of liberty and justice for all.”

“Liberty and Justice for All” is available for viewing, distribution, and use with educational outreach programs addressing the importance of an impartial and nonpolitical judiciary, as well as for juror orientation programs. A Spanish-language version of the video is in production and should be available later this summer. To access the video, contact the NAWJ using this form.

More Resources on Jury Service

Court Shorts: Jury Service
Produced by the U.S. Courts, published in 2014
AVAILABLE AT: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKpiwpajm6I
TARGET AUDIENCE: High school students

Why is jury service important? What is the role of the jury? In this video, students question federal judges from across the country on the basics of jury service to learn about the jury’s role in democracy.

Jury Service: Our Duty and Privilege as Citizens
Produced by the Annenberg Classroom
AVAILABLE AT: www.annenbergclassroom.org/resource/jury-service-duty-privilege-citizens
TARGET AUDIENCE: Middle and high school students, educators

In this lesson, students learn about the importance, history, and constitutional foundations of jury service. They become familiar with federal and state juror questionnaires and jury summonses. Students also participate in an attitudinal survey about jury service. The resource includes a lesson plan for teachers.

Civil Jury Project
Produced by New York University School of Law
AVAILABLE AT: civiljuryproject.law.nyu.edu/about
TARGET AUDIENCE: Judges and court administrators

The Civil Jury Project studies civil jury trials, produces research and reports on the current state of jury trials in the United States, and offers national programming aimed at improving the jury system. The site also offers resources for talking and teaching about the jury system.

As part of the Bolch Judicial Institute’s efforts to support and strengthen civic education, Judicature will periodically feature new and outstanding civic education initiatives in this new “Civic Education Spotlight.” To submit an article or program for future publication, email judicature@law.duke.edu.