I had jury duty today. As an attorney, I have a thorough grasp of how our justice system operates, and the importance of jurors within that system. They’re crucial. It’s that simple.
And in Los Angeles County, jurors are paid $0 for their first day of service, and $15 for each subsequent day. For the average trial of 5 to 7 days, the financial burden is probably manageable. For one thing, many employers will pay for at least some of those days.
But while I was there, the staff pre-screened jurors for their ability to serve on a 90-day trial that would begin in late January. Jurors whose employers pay for less than 90 days were automatically excluded. I’d guess that the eligible jurors were retired, unemployed, or work for the government or large corporations. After all, who else could afford to serve on a jury for that long?
Ninety days at $15 per day comes out to $1350. That’s a pretty paltry salary for three months’ work. Not many people could afford that – and the pay will probably be less than $1350, because I would guess the 90-day estimate includes weekends and holidays. I think there were only nine people in the entire room who said they could serve on that jury – and I can’t help but wonder what the financial impact of being selected would have.
If their employers pay for unlimited jury service, then the jurors probably give the $1350 to their employers in exchange for their regular salary. And if the jurors are retired, then I presume the $1350 would simply be additional income that supplements their Social Security or other retirement income. I have no idea what impact jury pay has on unemployment benefits, but I do know the income is taxable.
Could you afford to serve on a jury for three months?