American Jury Duty
A jury summons arrived this weekend. The first time a jury summons came, I was disappointed because I had moved, but the next summons started a four-week ordeal that ended an interest in jury duty. A competitive nature to survive through voir dire, jury selection caused jurors to want to serve, but by the end a determination to never serve.
The low pay requires citizens to view jury duty as a shared commitment, but lacks a fair sharing of the task. Washington State offers pay of $10 per day and mileage. Employers can gain exclusions for their employees and are not required to pay their employees while serving. Courts provide no childcare for mothers and do not exclude mothers because of the cost of childcare. Licenses childcare exceeds the juror duty payment. A judge told the crowd of jurors that everyone but me has to make sacrifices.
Juror’s view of time
The feeling of rejection that jurors feel when excluded from the courtroom diminishes with reality check. Our exclusion reminds us of the importance of what the jurors hear. The arguments offered in the classroom might help us understand the nature of the evidence we hear or the evidence started prior to our removal or the instruction of the judge prior to deliberation.
The amount of time expected for deliberations can cause manipulation by both the judge and the jury. The judge determines when the final deliberation can occur if a hung jury occurs. The jury foreman sends a message to the judge of the hung jury. The judge orders the jury to remain in deliberation. The jury can decide to end deliberation and wait it out and grow resentment.
Some states allow jurors to take notes, but in Washington State, jurors must rely on memory. This makes it impossible for some to sort through evidence over a long period. During deliberation other jurors must remind and sometimes reintroduce evidence to other jurors.
A one time a life system would prompt all to serve with provisions for childcare and employment. Court System could subscribe to a secure database of social security number system recording service on jury duty. Every citizen holds the responsibility of serving on one jury a lifetime and once served excluded from jury duty. This prompts citizens to serve at an opportune time and maybe even register with the courts for a session. Courts would still have the right of selection, but once a citizen serves jury duty ends for them, which would prevent recreational jurors
The jury system is important to justice, but needs updating. A few updates encourage service and provides for fair sharing of the sacrifice.