This Is Why You Have A Right To Trial By Jury

gavel on a platform
Leslie Taylor-Grover
May 11, 2023

Gary Duncan was worried about his two younger cousins. This was 1966 Louisiana, and schools had just been integrated.

Duncan feared harassment and violence of Black youths at integrated schools would affect his cousins. Sure enough, he saw them on the side of the road facing off against a group of white boys after school.

He stopped, got out, and told his cousins to get in the car – but that wasn’t the end of the story. Allegedly, he touched one of the white youth’s elbows

Soon, the police arrested him because the white boys lied, claiming he’d beaten them. He could be sentenced to two years in jail.

Duncan had his day in court – but was refused a jury trial and was, of course, found guilty.

He was fined and sentenced to 60 days. Duncan appealed, claiming the constitution guaranteed his right to a jury. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

They ruled he had been unfairly treated. His case gave future defendants the right to a trial by jury in all criminal cases, including state-level cases. 

We are full-fledged citizens in this country, and we must always protect our Constitutional rights. Justice for our people depends on it.

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