image shamelessly borrowed from potbust.com (one of the coolest I found googling "Justice images")
Yea, makes ya all warm and fuzzy inside, don't it?
It's sad, but that seems to be the attitude of many. In the weeks leading up to my jury duty I had people tell me all kinds of opinions about it. Things like (and I wish I was kidding):
- Let people on welfare do jury duty, they're already getting paid by the state.
- Lie and get out of it, that's what everyone else does.
- What a waste of time!
Maybe it's the last vestige of the 8th-grader-who-wanted-to-be-a-lawyer-when-she-grew-up in me, but this response bugged the hell out of me. If I were wrongfully accused of a crime, I want a trial in front of intelligent, hard working people. The problem is intelligent hard-working people don't want to be on juries.
Let's address my number one reason for not wanting to go: If Mama don't go to work, Mama don't get paid.
In a short 2-4 day trial that is an inconvenience, for me, but not a tragedy--now that dh is working too. If mine were the only paycheck feeding the family it would be a different matter altogether. A long case, such as one that may involve the death penalty or life in prison, is a break in pay no one with a job can afford. I've always dreamed of working for one of those rare companies who understand that jury duty is a legal and moral obligation and not a get-out-of-work-free card and pays people while they are out. If more places did this, more responsible, intelligent, hard-working (emphasis on the working part) people would be willing to serve on juries.
I feel bad for the defendant in the case I came four people away from being on the jury for yesterday. The ADA told the jury pool that the jury would most likely come from the first three rows. By the time voir dire was over most of the first FIVE rows had been excused on a litany of thin reasons, like, (yes, someone said this!), "Well, it never happened to me, but my mother's best friend's sister's nephew had it happen to him and I just don't think I could be impartial in this case."
Maybe the decline in the justice system in America isn't all the lawyers' fault. Maybe, just maybe, it's our fault, too.