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Recession Prompts Wave of Volunteers for Jury Duty

Last month, an article in The New York Times observed that for people being squeezed by the recession, a summons to perform jury duty holds a new fear: financial ruin. In Bonneville County, Idaho, for instance, the jury commissioner said that while she typically summons 400 people for a two-week term of service, she has lately had to "pop it up to 500” because of rising numbers of economic hardship claims.

40dollars But what about the flip side? The New York Post reported this week that in New York state court in Manhattan, the recession appears to be having an opposite effect.  In that court, which accept volunteers for jury duty, citizens are actually volunteering to be on juries for the first time in years. Vincent Homenick, chief clerk of the jury division for the court, says he has received about 20 calls since May 2009 from people who are eyeing the $40 per diem that goes along with jury duty. "People are calling up, saying, 'Look, I lost my job; now would be a good time for me to serve,'" he said. "Not that $40 will pay the bills, but it's something." Norman Goodman, the county clerk for Manhattan, added that "If somebody's out of work, I guess jury service is a paying job."

Even the federal courts in New York, which do not accept volunteers, have had inquiries from people seeking jury duty.  "Just this week, a woman wanted to serve on a jury, but there was nothing we could do," said a clerk in Brooklyn federal court.

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 17, 2009 at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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