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Jury duty – worth a day’s work?

Parade Magazine had an interesting notebook item recently about jury duty. (And no, unfortunately, Howard Huge didn’t jump into a jury box thinking it was some sort of play space.)

The story reports many jurisdictions are experiencing an increase in the number of people “who say they can’t afford to serve or who simply don’t show up, causing cases to be delayed or even dismissed.”

The problem has been exacerbated by the recession; a Minnesota plumber was found in contempt of court and jailed for a day in November after saying during voir dire that he couldn’t afford to miss more than a day of work. “I don’t get paid when I’m not working,” he said, according to court records. “I could see myself just going with the flow to get it over with to get back to work.”

The American Tort Reform Association has proposed states pay jurors more, noting Arizona offers jurors $300 per day for trials lasting longer than five days.  By comparison, jurors in Maryland are paid between $15 and $30 per day depending on the jurisdiction.

So, what say you – is a larger per diem the best way to ensure citizens answer the call of jury duty? What else could be done to make the experience more palatable for potential jurors?