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HOW IMPORTANT IS THE RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL TO THE VERY
EXISTENCE OF AMERICA? CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

"Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty."

John Adams (1774)

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

Thomas Jefferson (1801)

"Trial by jury must and shall be preserved! Amidst the throng of crude sacrilegisms . . . that assail us nowadays in the legal sanctuary, none is more shortsighted, none more dangerous, than the proposal to abolish trial by jury."

John Henry Wigmore (1925)

"Trial by jury is essentially a child of freedom. . . . It is the greatest safeguard of liberty, and the greatest protector of its privileges."

Sam M. Wolfe, A Defense of the Jury (1911)

"All attempts to tinker or tamper with trial by jury in civil causes should be discouraged as disastrous to the public welfare."

ABA President Joseph Coate (1898)

"Trial by jury is part of that bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation."

Thomas Jefferson (1801)

"Law and justice are from time to time inevitably in conflict. . . . The jury . . . adjusts the general rule of law to the justice to the particular case. Thus the odium of inflexible rules of law is avoided, and popular satisfaction is preserved . . . That is what jury trial does. It supplies that flexibility of legal rules which is essential to justice and popular contentment."

John Henry Wigmore (1929)

"Trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature."

James Madison (1789)


"The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes has been devoted to the attainment of trial by jury. It should be the creed of our political faith."

Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address (1801)

"The jury system is the handmaid of freedom. It catches and takes on the spirit of liberty, and grows and expands with the progress of constitutional government. Rome, Sparta and Carthage fell because they did not know it, let not England and America fall because they threw it away."

Charles S. May (1875)

"The friends and adversaries of the plan of the convention . . . concur . . . in the value they set upon the trial by jury; the former regard it as a valuable safeguard to liberty; the latter represent it as the very palladium of free government."

Alexander Hamilton (1788)

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Patrick Henry (March 23, 1775)

". . . Trial by jury cannot be corrupted unless the whole body of the people be corrupt. . . . Instances of perverse or dishonest verdicts there will be, because the attribute of perfection does not belong to any human institution. . . . [Reformers] see only those blemishes which are the casual specks of a glorious institution."

J. Sydney Taylor (1838)

"Trial by jury must be preserved. It is the best system ever invented for a free people in the world's history."

John Henry Wigmore (1929)

"Illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their footing . . . by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure . . . It is [our] duty . . . to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon . . ."

Justice Bradley (1886)

"Trial by jury is part of the bright constellation which leads to peace, liberty and safety."

President Thomas Jefferson (1801)


"The grand solid merit of jury trial is that the jurors . . . are selected at the last moment from the multitude of citizens. They cannot be known beforehand, and they melt back into the multitiude after each trial."

John Henry Wigmore (1924)

"The Bill of Rights should contain the general principles of natural and civil liberty. It should be to a community what the eternal laws and obligations of morality are to the conscience. It should be unalterable by any human power . . . "

Thomas Paine (1777)

"We may never have tyrants, . . . but if we should have them, they will seek to accomplish the downfall of free government, not by directly overriding the Constitution, but by using the forms of law to strangle and subvert its spirit."

Charles S. May (1875)

No single institution that the wisdom of man has ever devised is so well calculated to preserve a people free, or make them so, as trial by jury."

J. Sydney Taylor (1838)

"Trial by jury must be preserved: not as a mere formality, stripped of its discretion by arbitrary and inflexible rules dictated by the captains of commerce and industry for the furtherance of their own selfish interest, but free to search out and find the truly essential justice of each individual case."

J. Kendall Few, In Defense of Trial by Jury (1992)

". . . The popular attitude toward the administration of justice should be one of respect and confidence. Bureaucratic, purely official justice, can never receive such confidence. The one way to secure it is to give the citizen-body itself a share in the administration of justice. And that is what jury-trial does."

John Henry Wigmore (1929)

". . . Progress, reform, judicial reform - these are good and admirable things, but we should take care to know what we do in their name. . . . To abolish the trial by jury . . . would be a terribly destructive and radical measure, a direct impeachment of the wisdom of the past and a bold and hazardous experiment upon the future."

Charles S. May (1875)

"For the saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time."


Justice George Sutherland (1937)

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent . . . The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

Justice Brandeis (1928)

"We are good friends of jury trial. We believe in it as the best system of trial ever invented for a free people in the world's history."

John Henry Wigmore (1924)

"The first ten amendments to the Constitution safeguard [those] fundamental rights . . . [that] the framers of the Bill of Rights regard[ed as] certain liberties . . . so vital that legislative denial of them should be specifically foreclosed . . ."

Justice George Sutherland (1937)

"[Trial by jury is] a privilege of the highest and most beneficial nature [and] our most important guardian both of public and private liberty. The liberties of England cannot but subsist so long as this palladium remains sacred and inviolate, not only from all open attacks, . . . but also from all secret machinations, which may sap and undermine it."

Justice William Blackstone (1765)

"You ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, jealous of your liberty; for instead of securing your rights, you may lose them forever . . . "

Patrick Henry (1788)

"The jury system has come to stand for all we mean by English justice, because so long as a case has to be scrutinized by twelve honest men, defendant and plaintiff alike have a safeguard from arbitrary perversion of the law."

Sir Winston Churchill (1956)

"The right of trial by jury cannot be guarded with too much vigilance, nor defended with too much ardor. If the people surrender it, their other rights will inevitably follow."

Joseph Towers (1764)

"Trial by jury is our fence and protection against all frauds and surprises and against all storms of power."

Sir John Maynard, Sergeant at Law (1689)

"The mountain of so-called 'tort reform' legislation sponsored each year by the captains of commerce and industry is 'but the forerunner of a system of dangerous attacks upon the free institutions and ancient rights of [Americans in order to] rob the people of the best and firmest securities for the due administration of justice'."

J. Kendall Few (1993), quoting J. Sydney Taylor (1839)

"Trial by jury is a wise distribution of power which exceeds all other modes of trial."

Edward Coke, Chief Justice of Common Pleas (1628)

". . . They select instances of verdicts of a perverse or absurd character, and present them to the public as specimens of the working of the jury system. They prove nothing so conclusively as their own incapacity to take a more comprehensive view of a great subject . . . Yet such is the sort of logical process by which the deprecators of trial by jury arrive at the conclusion, that the administration of justice would be reformed . . ."

J. Sydney Taylor (1838)

"Those who serve upon our juries have maintained a standard of fairness and excellence and demonstrated a vision toward the administration of justice that is a wellspring of inspiration."

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1962)

"Trial by jury is the most rational and effective method for discovering the truth."

Sir John Fortescue, Chief Justice of the King's Bench (1468)



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