On the Jury, You're Guilty
By Richard Carreno
[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
My cheque, No. 2148432, for services rendered as a jurist, paid by the Board of Judges of Common Pleas of the City of Philadelphia, was for $9. I cashed it today.
As you probably guessed, based on my judicial 'salary,' I was serving on jury duty. In other words, the most dispised, objectionable civic obligation that most of us ever have to confront.
Even the military draft is voluntary.
Not jury duty.
What a joke.
Technically, according to court officials, jurors are offered 'gratitude and appreciation' for 'conscientious, diligent, and metitorous service.'
Jurors are schmos -- because we are not fairly paid. We are the only cogs in a judicial system that gets financially screwed -- at $9 per day. A woman next to me told me she was paid $25 per day for parking.
The reasoning for the low pay is the myth of civic duty.
You know, the civic duty by which lawyers make millions per year, judges hundreds of thousands, and expert witnesses $300 per day. Everyone gets rich -- except....
The case that I was being reviewed for -- a civil case -- involved about 10 lawyers, each priced at about $700 per hour. Let's see? For the time we were mutually in the courtroom, they racked up about $7,000 each. Me? $9.
Again, the reasoning. Well, it's argued by the judicial establishment, should never be paid a competetive wage because that would raise jury duty to a professional level. And thus, fair-minded indepedence would be compromised.
Oh yeah, like a judge's fair-minded independence. Is that a non-paid job? Hardly.
Jury duty is not a free-will job. You get nailed from time to time. In other words, it's not a professional job.
It's also the one job in the judiciary that has suckered us over the years. Civic duty? Bullshit. The courts just don't want to pay. Like everything else in America's judiciary system, the weak get screwed. Innocent defendants. And guileless jurors.