5 Ways Bell County Can Make Jury Duty Better For Everybody
If you were wondering why I wasn't on the air yesterday, it was because of this:
That's right, yours truly was selected for the civic lottery that our forefathers call "Jury Duty". I wasn't upset because if you've been to jury duty before you know that it could be a hit-or-miss situation, meaning you can be there for an hour, or you can be there ALL DAY if not MONTHS depending on the trial you're selected for.
Now this isn't the first time I've had jury duty. The last time I was up and out of there within an hour, but this time I wasn't so lucky as I ended up being selected "at random" to be in a panel of 50 people who would be potential jurors for a criminal trial. From there, I had to sit and listen to lawyers whose job was to select you based on the way you answer their questions. After several hours of not-so-compelling questions and answers, I was finally released and not selected to be on the final jury. HALLELUJAH!
I can tell you this though, if you HATE your job, I can see how Jury Duty is a quiet respite for you, but for people who actually LOVE what we do for a living, Jury Duty is an absolute inconvenience and I would like to help Bell County come up with a better way to make Jury Duty not only better but ATTRACTIVE to the citizens of Central Texas. Yes, I understand this is "serious" work but here are some ideas that will guarantee to make it worth everyone's time to attend Jury Duty.
Why make folks sit on those hard chairs and benches? We're not the ones on trial here! If you made things more comfortable for everyone, we won't be agitated when we arrive and spend half our morning there.
Much of your jury duty time is spent WAITING for the court staff to get their stuff together. Why not show a movie or ask the potential jurors to choose from a list of movies we all can watch together! You can never go wrong with a Disney classic!
This is my opinion, but to me it seems like it costs more to PRINT a paper check for SIX to TWELVE DOLLARS than the actual money that it's worth. $6 is fine for just "showing" up but when you're selected to spend MORE time then you anticipated at least INCREASE your compensation for the time AND MONEY folks are losing from missing work. And No, $40 a day ain't gonna cut it!
Take a note from Starbucks and every other business in America. You want to attract people? FREE WI-FI & SNACKS is the way to go! Yes, we know we can't use our phones INSIDE the court but while we WAIT let us get our web surfing on. And yes snacks, not vending machine fare, because you're gonna be a few weeks sending out that $6 check.
This is your civic responsibility, true indeed, and it's very important work that we all need to participate in to help make our democracy what it is! BUT, Jury Duty is a process where you're selected based on your bias, prejudices and ability to be objective and fair. Some of us just aren't capable of being any of these things, so instead of wasting time going over questions, you can get a clearer answer on who wants to sit on juries by just asking ONE simple question: "Who doesn't want to be here today?"
In a pool of 50 people, you're only there to find 12, all 50 won't raise their hands, you have folks who are ready and willing to do the work, so select those who don't raise their hands. If EVERYONE raises their hands, then proceed with questions. Besides, you're going to summon us again in the future ANYWAY...