Recently I had the honor and privilege to serve as a juror in a criminal trial in Maine Superior Court.

As citizens, we all have the duty and obligation to serve as a juror when we are called to do so, even though such service is almost always at the least an inconvenience and at most a significant burden. But more than that, it is an opportunity, in an increasingly fractious time, to remind ourselves of the importance of public service, of the fundamental right we all have to a presumption of innocence and a jury of our peers, and that there are still opportunities to do important and hard things together.

In my experience, I was struck by the professionalism of the court system, from the clerks and the court officers to the judge and the lawyers for both the state and the defendant. I was also struck by the many different communities, professions and perspectives of my fellow jurors and how the commonsense and life experiences of all helped us navigate through the contested facts and apply the law as instructed by the judge. I’m sure that among the 12 of us there were likely a diversity of opinions on the big issues of the day here in America and across the globe. But as we concluded our service, I found the experience affirming that the cornerstone of our American experience — the rule of law — not only deserves but demands the support of all of us.

Sean Mahoney

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