Posted by: Amelia | August 23, 2007

Miss Trial

In Washington State, the compensation for jurors is $10 per day. That was the rate set in 1959, and it hasn’t changed since. The Daily Olympian had an editorial recently declaring the pay inadequate and commending a pilot program in certain counties (not mine) that would raise the rate. I don’t know what other states pay, but $10 is a laughably small number. It might as well be nothing.Except if you’re me, and you were just going to be loafing around home this week anyway. I got called for jury duty yesterday, and I was actually pretty excited about it – and not just for the unexpected $10. Most people dread jury duty, but I thought it would be an interesting look at the judicial process.

So I put on a neutral-looking outfit and headed to the courthouse, hoping to come off as unobjectionable as possible so that I might actually get picked to serve. When the jury pool questionnaire made it obvious that the trial would be a sexual assault case, I was even more eager to get on. Perhaps that should have disqualified me, but I do think I could have been fair and unprejudiced. Having a political interest in issues of sexual violence is not incompatible with believing in the principles of due process and presumed innocence.

It didn’t matter, though; after three hours of waiting, the jury pool was abruptly dismissed. Apparently a witness for the defense had been hanging around in the hallways near our jury pool room and was talking about the case and the prosecutor to potential jurors as they passed on their way to the bathroom or to cigarette breaks. Being a decently continent non-smoker, I hadn’t budged from my chair the whole time. Nonetheless, the judge decided that the whole jury pool would have to be considered tainted, so she declared a mistrial. Thus, disappointingly, ended my service.

Do I still get $10?

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Responses

  1. aw, bummer. you woulda been so good at pounding justice on the evildoer.

  2. I have not been called for service… I would be interested in going through the process. If it was a lengthy trial my “motivation” to take part would definitely fade…

  3. how patriotic of you 🙂 i haven’t ever met anyone excited for jury duty. as a pre-law major, one of the first things they teach you is how to get out of jury duty!


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