Citizen Juries Ensure Our Liberty
C elebrating the Constitution in times of change is a timely theme for 2022 Law Day. As war rages in Europe, we should be mindful of how fragile and tenuous our hold on democracy can be. History is filled with many more countries governed by tyrants and despots than those who were democratically elected. Essential to the success of the rule of law is the promise of equity and opportunity to all citizens, ideals which are enshrined in our Constitution. As lawyers, it is our obligation to promote these principles, and Law Day is one of our best opportunities to do so. The concept of citizen juries as a means to protect individual rights and liberties is of paramount importance to the members of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. In the Unit- ed States, a jury decides if someone has been harmed by unsafe or inappropriate conduct and then determines the fair and appropriate amount of compensation to be awarded. There is no such system of justice or rule of law in countries ruled by dictators. There, the powerful and connected simply act with
impunity knowing the citizens have no ability to place accountability. From time to time, there are voices raised to limit the role of citizen juries. Those seeking to silence juries complain ordinary citizens are too emotional or lack the foundation to ren- der a “just” verdict. Invariably, the individuals and groups who disparage the jury system are among the most influential and well-connected interest groups. We should carefully consider the mo- tivations of those advocating limitations on the power of citizen juries. Lastly, we should always be mindful and appreciative of the ability of juries to best reflect the current attitudes and mores of society. In line with our theme for 2022 Law Day, the jury system is evidence of our Constitu- tion’s ability to accommodate for the coun- try’s progress in its views towards fairness and justice. We should continue to celebrate the role which citizen juries play in the preserva- tion of the rule of law and justice in America.
J. MATTHEW DUDLEY President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Using Our Voices for Change
S ince the inception of the Illinois Defense Counsel (IDC) in 1964, the organization has striven to advance the interests of the defense bar by ensuring civil justice with integrity, civility, and professional competence. IDC recognizes Law Day as a day to reflect on the rule of law and embraces the Law Day theme of “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” The Constitution is a powerful blueprint for the government but also sets forth avenues for change. For the promise of the Constitu- tion to be fulfilled for everyone, it needs to change to reflect changes in our nation. This does not mean we abandon the Con- stitution but instead use our voices through Legislation, court rulings and amendments to transform this amazing document into some- thing more relevant to our ever-changing times and desire for a “more perfect Union.” Like our Constitution, IDC is continually evolving while also upholding our integrity and civility. IDC has fought to preserve the rule of law by testifying in front of the Illinois legislation regarding proposed bills that would tip the scales of justice. IDC has testified before the Illinois Rules Committee regarding changes
to Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 206(h) to ensure that parties and representatives can determine how they choose to conduct remote depositions. In 2019/2020, we added a much-needed Diversity Committee to educate our members and offer tools to ensuring civil justice for all. Our speaker series ”Diverse Thoughts on Di- versity” and “Women Legal Leaders” feature judges and attorneys, young and old, address- ing topics that can be uncomfortable to talk about yet are very important to discuss. Diversity in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government just touch on how the Constitution and our nation are changing. We have our first female, Black and Asian-American vice president of the Unit- ed States, Kamala Harris. The Supreme Court has more female and diverse Justices than ever, more than 23 percent of the legislative branch is racially and ethnically diverse, and 149 women are serving in the 117th Congress. IDC is honored to celebrate Law Day and encourages everyone to reflect on the Consti- tution and ways to advance civil justice for all in our ever-changing nation.
President, Illinois Defense Counsel LAURA K. BEASLEY
CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 47
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