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Dear Editor:

Our state courts need help. As judges return to conducting jury trials, my colleagues and I on the Supreme Court are asking citizens of Louisiana to answer the call to serve as jurors.

Our system of having matters judged by juries of our peers is one of the more enduring institutions of our democracy, and fulfilling one’s duty as jurors has never been more important. Jurors are called upon to resolve differences between persons in our communities as well as to determine criminal responsibility. Their collective wisdom is needed to resolve factual disputes and apply laws passed by our representatives, thus ensuring that all values are considered and all voices are heard. There are few opportunities in public service that compare to the instant impact the decisions of jurors have on the parties before them and on the places they live.

This critical element of our legal system has been severely impacted over the past year. Cases are backlogged due to the pandemic. While we recognize the risks of the virus have not been eliminated, we are hopeful the worst is behind us. Juror safety remains of primary importance. We have consulted with medical professionals who have established protocols for safely resuming jury trials. Jurors can be confident that safety precautions are being taken to ensure their health and safety when they serve.

Every citizen is required to respond when summoned to serve as a juror. However, judges conducting trials will be sensitive to the particular needs of each person, especially those identified by medical experts as most at risk from the virus. Individual medical circumstances will be considered, and no one will be compelled to serve who is not willing and fit to do so.

These extraordinary times make citizen participation in the jury process even more important. In answering the call to serve, jurors will be exercising their civic responsibility, bringing honor to themselves and to the judicial system that is integral to our system of government and way of life.

Very truly yours,

John L. Weimer, Chief Justice

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