Jury Duty

I really wish this was a post about how I was going to serve on jury duty, but it isn’t.  As a person who is ready and willing (even eager) to do his duty I will probably never be summoned.  The wife, however, got a summons and is spending this week on a jury.

One of the things I learned this week as she attended her days of duty is that in some places because of the number of people trying to get out of jury duty they’ve had to make changes to what excuses are valid.  No longer can you be automatically excused if you are the sole breadwinner in a family.  Single mother?  Not excused.  Former police?  They’ll still let you sit on misdemeanor cases, just not felonies.  Medical issues?  Only if they prevent you from sitting still for stretches of 4-5 hours.

Another thing I learned is that some companies hate America.  Yeah, I went there, and yeah, I’m exaggerating.  However, our county pays $25 a day for service.  The wife makes that in about 3 hours of work.  To do 5 days of jury duty, she’ll earn $125 but miss out on about 30 hours of work.  (30 / 3 = 10 * $25 = $250)  So the result of this week is that it will cost us half her wages.  (It’s not 40 hours because she works retail, and therefore weekends.)  She talked to her boss and the company she works for makes no concessions for jury duty except the promise not to fire people if they end up on a lengthy trial.  I spoke to my own boss, he said I’d be paid my normal wages AND it wouldn’t cost me any vacation days either.  Probably another reason I won’t be called to serve.

The jury system is one of the things about this country that I love.  It is sad to see people treated quite poorly for their service, not by the government, because I understand they can’t really foot the bill for everyone’s wages (and seriously, they have to treat people equally, if the wife and I were both serving, it would be wrong for me to be paid more for my time on a jury because I make more in the private sector), but by the companies they work for.  Plus, it contributes to the idea that a trial by jury is actually a trial by a group of people who are probably a little upset for having to be there because of the impact it is going to have on them financially especially when the economy sucks.

Anyway… it was on my mind, so here it is…


  1. Is you wife an hourly employee? Does someone have to cover for her? I don’t think it is the responsibility of her employer to pay, nor should it be. Nice if they will, like your own employer, but unless we, as taxpayers, are willing to reimburse the company, we can’t expect them to eat the cost. There is something to be said for a business sharing some of the burden of the court system, as your wife is by doing her civic duty, but in truth they do via taxation.

    Anyhow, I, too, would like to experience a trial as a jury member someday. I keep getting summonses, but this community is tiny and there isn’t often a trial here. They include a phone number to call and see if you asre needed, and after the first call I always forget all about it.

    1. Even in a small community, contested misdemeanors are jury trials. Most courts are full of people contesting DUIs and other charges to try to keep them off their records.

      The rarity that people called for jury, it wouldn’t hurt the bottom line of most companies to pay a few days wages when an employee has to go. As it is, many hourly employers purposely keep their employees under 30 hours a week so they aren’t required to provide benefits or time off accrual, all in an effort to maximize profits for investors. And while I don’t begrudge a company profits, to do so at the expense of its employees, to me, seems counter productive, and is why many jobs have high turnover and low loyalty. If you treat people like a number in a column on a spreadsheet, they’ll act like a statistic.

      Anyway, I found out today that you can actually contact your local clerks office and apply to be in the jury pool. You are still subject to disqualification, but you can sidestep waiting to be summoned.

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