Jury duty worries

August 27, 2009
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Jury duty: it’s not glamorous, it can be time-consuming, and perhaps even boring, but it’s part of our duty as American citizens. A lot of people dread not only the process of being selected but possibly being seated for a long trial.

Being seated for a trial means you aren’t at work, which means you are losing money. What you get paid to serve doesn’t make up the difference, and some companies don’t pay you while you are gone. Many people worried about this before, but with the current economic situation, I wonder how many people try to dodge jury duty now

My “Lawyers” desk calendar had an entry this month of an actual jury selection transcript in which a potential juror told the court he didn’t want to serve because he didn’t want to be away from his job for too long. The court asked if they could do without him at work, to which the potential juror replied “Yes, but I don’t want them to know it.”

It’s a legitimate fear I’m sure a few people called to serve have: they don’t want their boss to find someone else to do their job while they are gone. If the company is looking to downsize, that could show that potential juror is expendable. Perhaps the potential juror is a small-business owner and has no one else to run the business.

You can’t be fired for serving on a jury, but perhaps down the road, when layoffs are coming, the boss will remember that someone else could do that juror’s job.

I’ve read a few articles this summer about people putting off vacations for the same reason.

Lawyers, how often are potential jurors asking to be excused because they are worried about getting time off or losing their jobs? Has it increased recently because of the economy?

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