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.