Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently read your column in which you quoted disgruntled jurors. I believe you have given the wrong impression to your readers.

I have been a trial judge for 25 years and have presided over literally thousands of jury trials. For many years I even gave jurors forms on which they could anonymously give me their complaints. With rare exception, nobody disparaged jury service as did your readers. Most thought it was not only their duty, but a privilege to serve.

Some of your correspondents suggest we abolish juries and have professional jurors and judges as fact finders. They might be interested to know that this was the system used in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, resulting in millions dying in concentration camps.

The reason for the Magna Carta and the Sixth and Seventh Amendments in the Bill of Rights was to curtail the absolute power of the sovereign and allow judgments to be made by one's peers.

The jury system rightly has been called the "cornerstone of democracy." Americans should be proud to serve as jurors. They should be paid a very substantial fee for their services -- and parenthetically, those employers who refuse to continue to pay their employees' wages while they are serving as jurors should be jailed. -- ROBERT E. DAUER, PRESIDENT JUDGE, ALLEGHENY COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS, PITTSBURGH

DEAR ABBY: Our dad was married to his second wife for 20 years. He recently died.

Our stepmom is a nice lady, but she seldom invited us to their home when Dad was living, and now that he is gone, we never see her.

We're not interested in Dad's money; we just wish that we could each have a memento of his. We asked her once, but nothing happened. She has already given away (or sold) most of Dad's things.

Should we ask her if there is anything left that we could buy? -- HURT IN RENTON, WASH.

DEAR HURT: Yes. And I suggest you hurry.

DEAR ABBY: I am one of a group of ladies who meet once a week for Bible study. We are all very congenial and I enjoy the meetings.

Now, my problem: Every week we take turns preparing a nice lunch, but one lady (I'll call her Sally) always brings her own lunch -- a large salad. She claims she is on a diet and the food prepared by the hostess would sabotage her diet.

I think this is extremely rude and an insult to the hostess. I voiced my opinion to a friend, and she said she saw no harm in Sally's behavior. I must add that Sally is far from discreet about eating her "lunch." I think it would be more polite to eat a small portion of the prepared meal provided by the hostess.

What do you think, Abby? We will abide by your opinion. -- STEAMED

DEAR STEAMED: Sorry, I vote for Sally's right to stick with her diet. (What's eating YOU?)

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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