Called to Jury Duty? There are problems, but know your rights!

by Iloilo Marguerite Jones
Executive Director
Fully Informed Jury Association
1-800-TEL-JURY    www.fija.org
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yes, it is true that jurors are terribly underpaid compared to all the other players in the courtroom.  Look who is not giving up their salary for that day: no one expects judges, bailiffs, clerks, or lawyers to come to the courtroom and work for $6 to $20 per day, so why does the government threaten jurors unless they do this?

Further, compare the salaries of these private working jurors with those of the government employees: most of those called for jury duty make about half as much as those government employees in the courtroom.

Most politicians are lawyers, and therefore have no interest in raising the pay of jurors, strengthening the concept of juries or jury service. Politicians have no interest in mere housekeeping that protects the human rights of the individual, you see.

Yet, if a juror does not show up when summoned, giving up their day’s wages, they can be fined, jailed, and maybe even worse, if they resist.

Government employees have a vested interest in removing as much authority and power from juries as possible; in making jury service demeaning, difficult, financially devastating, and misdirected. Most lawyers and government employees are building a power base, not serving justice.  Jurors can serve justice.

When I say jurors are misdirected, I mean that judges routinely tell jurors that they must follow the law as the judge gives it to them, although jurors have the absolute authority and right to set aside bad laws, as they did during slavery, prohibition, and war protests.

If someone does not show up for jury duty, and refuses to pay the fine, they can be jailed.  If they resist being held in captivity, they may be tasered, or perhaps killed, all in the name of protecting the authority of government.

While every person on trial needs to have a jury trial to protect their rights from government judges and prosecutors, it is difficult on the jurors when they are under duress, financial hardship, and deceitful instructions and demeaning treatment by government employees.  Why is this so?  What is the incentive for government to treat jurors this way?

Jurors should be paid the same daily rate as the highest-paid judge in the land.  They are that integral to human rights and justice.  The thin reed of “budget considerations” is hardly a valid defense given the fallacy of such a defense in light of daily payment rates to the government-funded players in the room.  Today, the pay for twelve jurors is less than one day’s pay of any judge.  Think about it.

What is the official reason of record that governments don’t start a fund to pay jurors a proper fee? Funds could come from some of the salaries of politicians, judges, prosecutors, and other government employees. Make jury service pay what it is worth, as the last refuge of justice.  Couldn’t government take part of the salaries of some of Michelle Obama’s many highly-paid assistants, and part of the salaries of IRS, DEA, and BATF attorneys, to build a nice juror payment fund?

Ideally, of course, we will have a free market society with free market juries, judges, and cases.

As with jury duty, there are many social problems confronting us.  I do not see how we can solve any of these social problems as long as we accept that it is proper a proper social structure to have a government that is funded through force; no better than armed robbery.  Until we cooperate with each other in our social structures through voluntary associations and free markets, until we give up the use of force, we are still monkeys banging each other over the head with sticks.

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