But I admit it was a quandary. You see, I think the system is so utterly and unnecessarily inefficient. They want a broad range of people to participate, but they don't make that easy or fair.
I chose to ride the Metro for the first time in years because traffic downtown is so convoluted and confusing even the buses are not running on schedule, and parking is both challenging (what happens if I don't get to the parking lot before it is barred for the night? what happens if I "run over" and incur crazy additional charges? all possibilities according to court staff) and expensive. It was just easier to ride and the bus and drivers were delightful as were my fellow commuters -- unless they were totally non-interactive, which is fine too.
Let me explain why I find the system discourages good people from serving in good faith. A lactating mother is told "there is a place to pump" but no one mentions (either there or on the website Q&As) how to get the milk to the baby or assure us that there was a refrigerator to keep the milk safe from tampering and spoilage. I sometimes think we are angry with every woman who gives birth these days and there is certainly no respect for at-home moms of toddlers. And folks who must pay for childcare are just told to suck it up. I was gone for 13 hours from leaving my house and returning to my house. Driving might have shaved 90 minutes off that while ratcheting the costs up substantially. Matching childcare with not getting out of the courthouse until after 6:00 pm does not make for calm, attentive mothers, even if they aren't also worried about their budgets.
Elderly people with obvious health problems were kept for the full ten hours and left to hobble to their cars in dangerous heat. (Folks with onerous duties caring for aging, frail family members in their homes can have great difficulty in getting someone to sub for them for extended periods).
We either had to bring our lunch or walk some distance, again in dangerously high temperatures. At least it wasn't snow and Ice! Of course if we brought our lunch we were welcome to return to the "jury room" where we could eat off our laps and drink tiny glasses of tap water..
You see, in our state jurors are paid $6.00 per day (an amount set in the 1950s), plus 17 cents per mile (as based on mid-point of residential zip code) and $5.25 for parking whether they are there for 3 hours (as some were) or ten hours as our group was. I'm not suggesting that folks should be lured to jury duty with big dollars, but I don't think it fair to ask folks with limited income and/or childcare costs to actually lose money on the deal.
Because I chose to ride a bus (and get a discount because I am over 65), thereby avoiding parking and most gasoline costs (used park & ride) and took my lunch I am on the plus side after a very long day which I am grateful does not include being chosen and therefore committed to all of this week and maybe half of next week to repeat the exercise daily. But for someone who drive the same distance I came (I live in "mid-county") the cost of parking and gas would be more like $10.00 and if they failed to plan ahead they might spend $5.00 or more extra for lunch...unless they are adding childcare costs on top of that. Really CHEAP child care is $125.00 per week and it can run 4 times that for occasional infant care, so let's call it a minimum of $25.00 per day per child.
And, frankly, unless they want to set up well supervised childcare on site, the judiciary needs to quit emotionally bludgeoning young mothers (not the fathers very often, of course) who are trying to care for very small children and/or breastfeeding and frail folks whose physicians could easily testify that their medical condition and medication may well make jury duty embarrassing and/or inefficient and even dangerous for the person.
I get it. If a person has an employer that not only means life may be ordered around 8-5 work days with attendant childcare arrangements and transportation choices (and at good companies with salaries that continue while a person is serving), but it may well be a major challenge to serve for the self-employed person, folks whose workdays and lives are structured to working evening or nights, or who balance several part-time jobs or who travel for a living or any of a number of other challenges that regular citizens face when trying to be good citizens. And it is true that some folks seemed most anxious to assure the attorneys and judge that they have such poor maturity that they are certain they would blindly give preference to one side or the other no matter the law or the evidence offered -- or maybe they just did not want to serve for the 8-9 days we were told this trial could easily run. Do I sound bitter? Well, I would not want those folks judging life and death matters for me anyway, but how selfish.
For folks who can serve: please don't let a small inconvenience for you be more important to you than a severe burden to someone else. For every person who dodges, lies or finagles to get out, someone else must step up and it may be much more of a challenge for them, or they may not be as able to process challenging cases. Failing to be an informed and voting citizens is not good. Failing this is far, far worse and more dangerous to the most fragile in our community.
They told me in orientation that I would be better informed about the judicial system due to my service and indeed I am. I just sorry I’m so depressed about it.