Special event celebrates Seventh Amendment in Tuscaloosa — ‘I express to jurors what a historic thing they are doing serving on a jury’
The Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ), one of the state’s largest legal organizations, held the final gathering in its fall event series celebrating the drafting and ratification of the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. Taking place in courthouses across the state, the events also honored those who work throughout Alabama’s legal system.
Josh Hayes, ALAJ president, noted the event coinciding with the 230th anniversary of the Bill of Rights being proposed to the states for ratification and the importance of the Seventh Amendment to his organization.
“There is a lot of talk in Alabama about the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and there should be,” he noted. “But in that same document was the Seventh Amendment which guarantees Alabamians and Americans the right to a trial by jury. And that’s what we stand for as an organization. That’s what we fight for in Montgomery.”
He also sought to recognize the judges and courthouse personnel, in Tuscaloosa and across the state, working to ensure fairness in the legal system.
“We’re really here to offer thanks to the people who make the wheels of justice turn every day,” Hayes remarked.
State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) spoke to those in attendance, calling it “a privilege” to be in the room with what he termed were “real legal heavyweights.”
A fellow member of Allen’s Tuscaloosa delegation in the state legislature, State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), spoke to the quality of information provided by ALAJ during the legislative process. He mentioned that information is essential to making good policy decisions that affect their constituents and the legal system.
As part of the event, Hayes presented to Judge Brad Almond a resolution passed by the Alabama legislature commending the judiciary and its personnel for their work.
Almond, presiding judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit, spoke to the importance of the work performed by juries in Alabama. He mentioned that it is a duty of which he reminds them regularly.
“I express to jurors what a historic thing they are doing serving on a jury,” Almond said. “I want them to appreciate that, to know when they serve on juries and when they vote is when they are doing their duties as citizens. I tell them we can’t do our job without them.”
Proposed to the states in the fall of 1789, the Seventh Amendment reads as follows:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Hayes previously elaborated on its importance for the court system and the maintenance of our civil society.
“The right to trial by jury is part of who we are as Americans so we’re judged by people just like you and I — our peers,” he said. “Whether you represent a large corporation or whether you are an injured person on your own, in a jury room that is the one room where everybody is equal — the American courtroom.”
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia