Friday, April 17

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury.

Thank you for being here, truly thank you very much.

With your presence in this courtroom, we have the simple, essential element of Justice.

I am NOT a lawyer, I am an Historian.

Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac modified an old folk saying:
“For want of a nail a shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe a horse was lost.

For want of a horse a rider was lost.
For want of a rider a battle was lost.”

For want of a nail a nation was lost.” (or words to that effect).

For want of a simple item, a cascade of calamity flows forth.

Our being here in this Civil Court room today with a Jury is illustrative of that truth.

Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, one of the “organic elements” of our law in America even today wrote:
“The history of the present...
is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations,
all having in direct object
the establishment of an absolute Tyranny...

For depriving us in many cases of
the benefits of Trial by Jury.”

Our forefathers fought a Revolution to earn our Right, your Right, and my Right, to have a Trial by Jury, and other Rights of Due Process and Civil Procedure.

The Right of a Trial by Jury is enshrined in “this Constitution for the United States of America” in Article III, Section 2,
“The Trial of all Crimes,..., shall be by Jury;...”
yet that Right was extended by the Bill of Rights to Civil cases as well, Article or Amendment VI is for Criminal cases and Amendment VII is for Civil Cases where is proclaimed:
“In Suits at common law,...
the right to trial by jury
shall be preserved,...

In 2004, Virginia Court of Appeals Judge D. Arthur Kelsey wrote about the Framers’ legal philosophy in an issue of Virginia Lawyer magazine:
“To them, the jury was no procedural formality,
but a fundamental reservation of power in our constitutional structure.
Just as suffrage
(voting) ensures the people’s ultimate control
in the legislative and executive branches,

jury trial is meant
to ensure their control in the judiciary.”

In Virginia, the Bill of Rights is placed first as Article I of the Constitution of Virginia before the rest of the Constitution to establish its preeminence in importance, wherein Section 11 the second paragraph states:
“That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man,
trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred."

In Williamsburg, Virginia at the National Center for State Courts with its Center for Jury Studies that has a branch office about two blocks up Wilson Boulevard here in Arlington, they quote Founding Father Thomas Jefferson yet again:
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor
ever yet imagined by man

by which government can be held to
the principles of its constitution...”

One could sum up the above wise words of wise men with:
“No Jury, no Justice.”

You have probably heard the saying,
“A man who represents himself has a fool as a client.”
Likely that saying came from a lawyer, or second hand from a lawyer.

The true saying is a bit different, ...
it too came from a lawyer,...
one who never went to law school,...
a man who was a repeated failure in life in one venture after another,...
until he finally turned his life around and succeeded.

Lincoln was that Man, that man was a lawyer.

However, as a man who is an Historian,
I researched that saying of Lincoln to learn that he said:
“A LAWYER who represents himself has a fool as a client.”
Not just any citizen, but a lawyer.

The question we should then ask, is “When?”
When did he become a fool?
When he became a client?
Or when he became a lawyer?