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Juries Threatened by Sinking Economy

The economy is making it harder for the courts to find willing jurors, reports the Connecticut Law Tribune. Increasingly, prospective jurors are expressing concern that taking too much time off from work for jury duty might mean losing their jobs. And even where potential jurors are unemployed, they're still worried that jury duty could interfere with their job search.

In most cases, both plaintiff and defense attorneys who learn of juror concern over jobs voluntarily excuse them without question. After all, having a juror who's preoccupied with other matters or who's so eager to finish a case that he won't seriously deliberate can prove damaging to both plaintiffs and defendants alike. But because fewer individuals are willing to serve as jurors, jury selection is taking longer. Growing juror impatience may also lead lawyers to try cases differently. For example, the article notes that many jurors aren't willing to sit through four- or five-hour direct examinations, so in order to hold their attention, lawyers will need to come up with a more efficient approach to elicit evidence. But that's not such a bad thing, is it?

In the meantime, the courts are trying to get the word out to prospective jurors that employers are not allowed to fire them for attending jury duty and are required by Connecticut law to pay an employee for the first five days he or she serves on a jury. After the five days, jurors are paid $50 per day by the state, if employed full-time. If a juror is unemployed or working part-time, the state pays between $20 and $50 per day.

What's your experience? Have you noticed that fewer people are willing to serve on your juries in this economy?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 13, 2009 at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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