As I sit in the crowded jury lounge at the El Cajon Superior Court in Southern California, I am reminded of the importance of jury duty. We are a nation of great freedoms, many more freedoms than responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to be available for jury duty. In fact, I would place jury duty and voting as our two most important civic duties.
I will admit that jury service is a pain in the neck. I will be out of the office at least a full day and compensation for jury service is small ($15/day per day plus 34 cents mileage). At least California has the “one day service” rule, meaning that you are excused for 12 months if not picked to serve on a jury the first day. The last time I was on call for federal court jury service, I was on telephonic standby for nearly a month.
While the trial by jury system in America is far from perfect, I would not trade it for any other legal system. And without enough jurors, disputes go unresolved and criminal trials are delayed. f trials are delayed, criminals who do not get their constitutional right to a speedy trial can be set free as a result.
So when you get that jury summons, don’t toss is aside. It is both an honor and your responsibility to serve.