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By John Pierce

Jury duty lasted less than two full days for me — but it seemed much longer. The attorney bringing the civil case did not share my commitment (as a writer and public speaker) to the economy of words.

There’s a saying about preachers that if your point is weak, say it louder. The equivalent in the practice of law must be: if your case is weak, say it longer.

So we endured his repetition of so-called “facts,” his long strolls to the refill his water glass in mid-argument and his silly snipes at the defense attorney. At deliberation time, one juror exclaimed: “Does he think we’re stupid?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Or at least naïve. That’s why we’re on the panel. Guess we’ll have to prove him wrong.”

Justice was done in this case. But justice is rarely clear, clean and easy.

While the court systems of our nation have their failings — including incredible inefficiency that seems to have missed most technological advances of the last couple of decades — they are preferred to other means of settling disputes. So my civic service was offered gladly — uh, make that willingly.

Justice is an interesting word and concept. As Americans we tout “liberty and justice” for all — but our history is full of injustices. We must forever be on guard against doing such again and again.

In an interview I did with Tony Campolo a couple of months ago, he referred to justice as “nothing more than love turned into social policy.”

Sometimes we look to courts and legislatures to bring about such justice. More often it finds expression in our own daily commitments to honesty, equality and fairness that are not tarnished by personal gain or unfounded fear.

So the important question is not whether the pursuit of justice is efficient. But, rather, is it valued and pursued for all others as well as for ourselves?

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