Jurors in courts across Massachusetts will learn about the history of juries, their responsibilities, and their importance to the American legal system, through an orientation video produced in partnership with Suffolk University.

The 18-minute orientation includes an introduction by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, as well as scenes filmed from many courts around the Commonwealth, and commentary by judges and actual jurors. It was produced by Suffolk University’s Office of University Communications in collaboration with the Commonwealth’s Office of Jury Commissioner. Some Suffolk University employees make cameo appearances in the film.

Replaces dated film

Citizens who reported for jury service July 5 were the first jurors to view the new orientation video, which replaces one that was introduced about 25 years ago. Last year, nearly 250,000 jurors appeared in courthouses across the state for service.

At a recent unveiling of the video in the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, University Acting President and Provost Barry Brown described the project as “logical, important, and consistent with everything Suffolk University stands for.”

“At Suffolk, we see ourselves as bringing democracy to education,” Brown said. “It’s not only what we teach in the classroom but outside the classroom walls as well. We are extending the concept of participatory justice.”

Historical & practical information

The video provides a brief history of the concept of trial by jury, starting with the Magna Carta in England in 1215. The concept of being judged by a jury of one’s peers was a “treasured right” brought to the new world by Pilgrims and Puritans, the video explains. It was so important to the Colonists that Thomas Jefferson included it in the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The video goes on to provide information about typical courtroom events jurors may encounter, and outlines expectations and responsibilities for those serving on a trial.

“Jurors represent a most fundamental and essential element of our legal system,” said Chief Justice Ireland. “The orientation video is a critical tool to welcome, educate and thank jurors for their service. We would not have been able to produce this long-overdue revision of the video without the support of Suffolk University.”