TV, child care, and jurors

October 10, 2008
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Free child care. Free movies and wireless Internet. Time to shop during the day. These aren’t amenities law firms are giving employees to attract lawyers but are actually what some counties in the U.S. are doing to attract jurors.

No one likes receiving the jury summons in the mail. I received one earlier this year for Marion County, which required me to call a telephone number every evening to find out if my number had been selected. I got picked, showed up bright and early to the City-County Building and sat there for hours trying to pass the time with a book I brought. I saw a few magazines in the room, but beyond that, we prospective jurors were left to entertain and feed ourselves until we were called to serve on a jury or were dismissed.

Needless to say, it wasn’t an exciting morning.

Counties across the country recognize this, and some are providing free child care, free wireless Internet access, and TVs to play DVDs, according to a National Law Journal article. In fact, one county in Michigan gives its jurors a beeper so they are free to leave the building, shop, and eat, as long as they stay within a certain radius. If the beeper rings, you’ve been called back to serve.

But in this economy, where are counties and states getting the money to install televisions in juror waiting rooms, purchase beepers, and pay for day care for prospective jurors? I wonder if these courts have done a cost-benefit analysis and found the up-front investment for these items overall will save the courts money because trials will be less likely to be postponed and juror pools will be larger. I also have read some courts are considering cutting juror pay as a cost-saving method.

I’d like to see a way to bring in more jurors and increase the juror pool, and make the jurors not feel like being called to serve is a punishment or drag on the day. But will these types of amenities be enough to attract more jurors, or would cold, hard cash do the trick?
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