Courts Just Learned That People Can’t Live off Free

I got a jury summons to be on standby in mid-December. The entire week was nothing but, “I’ll schedule you for X, but I may have to move you to Z because of jury duty”, and “I’d like to, but I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 12 hours.” It’s a horrid turd called the “jury system”. I never got called, but it destroyed my whole week. It’s awful, woefully out-of-date and out-of-touch and I assume most courts everywhere are almost embarrassed by the lack of funds.

To add to the insult of being jerked around for a week, courts only pay a pittance for your appearance. Assuming you get called to serve on a jury and are selected, Marion County courts only pay about $40 a day. To cover the cost of parking ($12 a day) and lunch ($10), you can only expect to get a profit of $18 a day. People who make minimum wage net about $45 a day. You can imagine the concern for people who make, you know, anything above minimum wage.

Spare me the “it’s an honor” line – if it’s an honor, you should honor those serving with enough money to sustain themselves and their families based on a percentage of their daily gross income. At least when stupid crimes are involved for stupid people.

Evidently, the people of L.A. have had enough:

Spurned in his effort to get out of jury duty, salesman Tony Prados turned his attention to the case that could cost him three weeks’ pay: A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was suing his former sergeant, alleging severe emotional distress inflicted by lewd and false innuendo that he was gay.

Prados, an ex-Marine, leaned forward in the jury box and asked in a let-me-get-this-straight tone of voice: “He’s brave enough to go out and get shot at by anyone but he couldn’t handle this?” he said of the locker-room taunting.

In this time of double-digit unemployment and shrinking benefits for those who do have jobs, courts are finding it more difficult to seat juries for trials running more than a day or two. And in extreme cases, reluctance has escalated into rebellion, experts say.

After three days of mounting insurrection, lawyers for both the deputy and the sergeant waived their right to a jury trial and left the verdict up to [the Judge].

“We can’t have a disgruntled jury,” said attorney Gregory W. Smith, who represents Deputy Robert Lyznick in the lawsuit against his former supervisor. He called the panel “scary” and too volatile for either side to trust.

It was already ridiculous to think that anyone could afford to sit on a jury before the recession, let-alone now.

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