Trey Apffel 2015-02-25 15:59:06
Protecting the Right to Trial by Jury One of the many highlights of my term so far has been getting to speak to the American Board of Trial Advocates in Houston last fall. As a trial lawyer and an ABOTA member, I was proud to personally commend the association’s work to foster ethics and professionalism in the law, promote efficiency in our justice system, and, most importantly, protect and preserve our jury system. The Seventh Amendment guarantees our right to a trial by jury. However, most of you reading this column are aware of the trend: the number of civil jury trials in Texas state courts dropped by 60 percent from 1986 to 2008, similar to declines in state and federal courts across the country. I have made it my mission this year to engage, inform, and inspire every attorney in Texas to have a greater awareness of the principles that set our profession apart from others, as well as motivate attorneys to provide a higher level of service to their clients and their communities. We as lawyers should be committed to promoting and protecting the rule of law, standing firm for equal access to justice for all people, and educating the public that the right to a trial by jury is the very foundation of our liberties and freedoms. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Pledge of Allegiance are just words on paper unless they’re accepted and understood by the people. The rights afforded to us are worthy of protection, and part of our job as a profession is to keep that ideal at the forefront of the discussion. In this month’s Texas Bar Journal, one article takes an in-depth look at the lack of jury trial experience and its implications for our profession and civil justice (Page 210). In another, you will read about efforts by the Dallas bar to start reversing the trend of vanishing trials—and the corresponding reality of trial attorneys with less courtroom experience (Page 206). The State Bar Act calls on us to “aid the courts in carrying on and improving the administration of justice” and to “foster and maintain on the part of those engaged in the practice of law high ideals and integrity,” among other core purposes. To me, there is no higher ideal than the right to trial by jury. Alexander Hamilton once called the civil jury “a valuable safeguard to liberty.” We must not allow that liberty to die.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/President%E2%80%99s+Opinion/1939956/247726/article.html.