After September 11, many Americans were compelled to give blood, write checks to the Red Cross, or even to join the military as a way of serving the country. Apparently, though, an awful lot of us were also moved to show up for jury duty. This revelation comes courtesy of U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young, who recently addressed the Florida Bar Association on the death of the jury trial. Young noted that nationwide data (which he unfortunately didn’t cite) show that Americans turned up for jury service in record numbers in the year after the towers fell.
Young is most famous recently for sentencing shoebomber Richard Reid by telling him “You’re no big deal,” but his speech (recently posted here) is an amazing–and rare–love song to the American jury that’s worth a read. Along with some harsh words for Congress for suspending habeas corpus, there are some interesting observations about the state of the federal judiciary, including this one:
In 1988, the average time a federal judge spent actually sitting on the bench each year was 790 hours. In FY 2005, that number had fallen to 437, of which only 225 hours were spent overseeing trials. So what are the judges doing all day if not on the bench?
“Litigation management,” said Young. “Hardly a shining vision, is it?”