Charles Daniels, the Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, had a nice essay in the New Mexico Bar Bulletin praising the state’s jury system. He points out at one point that New Mexico:
is unique in the United States in having a state constitutional guarantee that even non-English-speaking citizens must be included in jury service. We regularly provide interpreters for Native Americans and Spanish-speaking jurors, but we also provide interpreters for other jurors who speak various languages from around the world. It is important that we have the meaningful participation of all citizens in the jury process if our juries are to reflect our communities and our society as a whole.
That resonates with the hosts of our blog, all of whom have a connection to New Mexico. Three of the co-authors of The Jury & Democracy lived in Albuquerque/Santa Fe for a time, and the other co-author (Phil Weiser) has resided in Colorado for many years, soaking up plenty of New Mexico’s vibe as it drifts north toward Boulder. New Mexico really is an exceptional state in many respects, and it has its distinctive ways of honoring Native American (pueblo, Apache, and Navajo) and Hispanic cultures. We’re glad the jury system is consistent with that tradition.
Incidentally, Judge Daniels’ piece also has some nice language for jurors, as this is the season of the year in which juries often get praise during Jury/Juror Appreciation Week/Month, which many states hold in May. Daniels closes with this thought:
Through the time and efforts they devote to the peaceful resolution of our society’s conflicts, both among citizens and between citizens and their own government, they are the unsung heroes who make American justice and, in a larger sense, our American democracy, work.