I’ve been summonsed for jury duty. I am not thrilled.
Forget the inconvenience involved; let’s pretend that I would normally be indifferent to being on a jury. Consider the basic fact of what jury duty offers with respect to wages:
You will be paid an attendance fee of $40 for each day you report to the courthouse.
$40? For a full day of work? Hours of operation for the court are 8:30am-5:00pm. Assuming 30 minutes for lunch, that means the court will pay me $5 per hour. Federal minimum wage is $5.85 per hour. I do not have to agree with a minimum wage law to expect the United States government to honor that law. I will work no more than 6.8376 hours per day. Otherwise, I will sue the federal government.
My other option would be to ignore the summons and take the punishment:
The consequences of not reporting for jury service are severe. You could be escorted to the courthouse by a deputy U.S. marshal to explain to a judge why you did not report. You also could be fined up to $100 or imprisoned for up to three days or both.
At my normal income, it would be more economical for me to accept the full fine of $100 and three days in prison because it would leave me with the other seven days to earn income. Something is very clearly, very extensively broken in that system. Particularly:
Does my employer have to pay me while I serve?
No, but most private employers do pay employees during their jury service. Some pay employees in full, while others deduct your $40 daily juror pay from your regular wages.
I am my own employer. I can put a policy in place to pay myself while I’m absent, but that’s a fairy tale with no validity. There is no one else in my organization to compensate me in a socialist manner by subsidizing my absence. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. So I’m back to deciding if it’s emotionally worth suffering criminal charges to significantly protect my economic well-being. Something is very clearly, very extensively broken in that system. I’m not buying claims of duty:
In our democratic system, there is no more valuable service a citizen can perform than to be a juror.
In our constitutional system, there is no more valuable concept than recognizing that forcing an individual to work at a job he does not want, for pay that is below even the minimum rate the government mandates for all other employers, with a specific requirement on how he must present himself for evaluation, is a violation of that constitutional system. It is illegitimate to violate my rights to liberty in order to grant another American his right to a trial by jury. Exercising my right to vote can not be morally wrapped in an obligation to submit to temporary slavery.
Being a juror should be a profession, with market wages and the liberty to enter and leave the occupation within mutually agreed contractual terms.
One thought on “Professional juries would eliminate the slavery of jury duty.”
At least you weren’t plucked off the street.
I have posited, if not fully embraced, the notion of professional jurors previously.
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