I’m all in favor of a pool of peers (including me) to judge defendants, but since when is it a civic duty to:
Work for $50/day? (and in NY it used to be $5!). The judge in the case has a civic duty – does he work for $50/day? Does the defense lawyer, or the bailiff, or the stenographer? If jurors are the most important part of the process, surely they should be compensated at a rate that reflects that. “Oh, but the proposal on the table is that state makes my employer pay my wages,” say dan and others. Since when is it my employer’s civic duty to pay my ridiculously inflated salary and get literally no work from me while I’m on jury duty? Let the state pay a fair wage to those who don’t evade. Particularly in civil cases.
Be forcibly removed from my house for days at a time? Did you know that in New York State, the bias is to sequester jurors during deliberations in cases involving major felonies? Not just mafia cases or cases that get big press – every two-bit dealer who ever beat up one of his crackwhores. This ridiculous bailiff overtime scam means that jurors are legally required to live in a scummy airport hotel room, rooming with a stranger, until a verdict is reached. The heck with that. The next time they attempt to sequester me, I’m going to file a writ of habeus corpus with the court and bring the whole scheme down.
Intentionally remove myself from the normal goings-on of the world? Jurors are routinely ordered to avoid reading or watching the press, even in low-profile cases like the crack dealer above. Darlin’, current events is what I do! I need the Financial Times and my Bloomberg runs every day, several times a day. That’s when I’m on vacation, when I’m traveling on business, on weekends, even in the hospital. Shit, I think my will provides for a T-1 to my urn so that my ashes can catch the latest. There is exactly zero chance that I’m going to take myself out of the game on the infinitesimal chance that the Wall St. Journal will run an article about the stereo theft case or slip-and-fall insurance scam that I pull as a juror.
In fairness, things are much better than they used to be. They used to make you report for two full weeks if you didn’t pull a case, for example, and that is down to, I think, three days. Pay, as I mentioned, is up. Sequestration also used to apply to lesser felonies.
But they’ve got a long way to go before they make juror conditions reflective of the ostensible importance of the job. If the voters of a State really want dedicated professional people serving on juries, they will vote to pony up the money to treat jurors like professionals.
I go when called, but don’t expect me to whistle a happy tune and rejoice over my profound luck at the honor of serving.