When we think of jury duty we think of doing our duty to our country in order to ensure one of the facets of due process in that we provide the opportunity to a defendant to have a fair trial that is free of bias, partiality, and prejudice. The down side of the way jury duty is practiced in the United States is that in order to ensure the rights of the accused, regular citizens are stripped of their freedoms for an indefinite period of time while they are trapped in long and arduous court cases — and often without financial compensation other than $15 per day which does not even cover lunch or a cab fare.
However, upon further and closer inspection it seems that jury duty is not only a sacrifice of the juror’s short-term rights for the benefit of a defendant, but much worse. Jury duty has many parallels with human trafficking and actually meets the definition of human trafficking to a T.
Human trafficking can be defined as the transport of human beings from one location to the other in order to perform forced labor or sexual exploitation. Although it normally includes various other types of abuses as a matter of practices, those other abuses are not part of the definition.
Jury duty involves what I call “self-abduction under duress” as a primary stage of the process. This means that a jury member or prospective juror forces himself into a vehicle of some sort because he or she realizes that he/she will face a $1500 fine or possible incarceration if he/she doesn’t comply with the request made in writing by the court administration. The mafia also makes threats when they want you to do something. They threaten you with physical harm or threaten to harm loved ones or your possessions. Maybe the supreme court is more similar to the mafia than we think.
Jury duty involves the transportation or trafficking or “self-trafficking under duress” of jurors or prospective jurors from one location to another (home to a court building) for the purpose of forced labor in the form of decision making shoddily performed intellectual labor. The irony is that most jurors do not have the intellectual capacity nor care enough about their cases to give the defendant a fair trial.
Here is a satirical line from one of my comedy routines:
“Your honor, I believe that jury duty is similar in essence to human tracking. Both involve the transport or self-transport of individuals from one location to another for the sake of sexual exploitation or forced labor. I am relieved that I am here for forced jury related labor and not for sexual services because quite frankly your honor — you’re not my type.”
Kidnapping is the unlawful abduction, transport, and holding of a person against their will. But, is it lawful for the court system to hold people against their will in a court room? If a juror does not complain about being there it does not appear that they are being kidnapped. But, what id they do announce that they do not consent to being strong-armed into staying there? Denying a person their freedoms as a law abiding person is a violation of their human rights. Is it legal for a court to cheat you out of your human rights? Is holding someone in court against their will hostage taking, kidnapping, or none of the above? I am not an Attorney and don’t know, but it seems that a lot of these accusations are up to interpretation.
Since America has a policy of offering a public trial by jury to criminals and also sometimes for civil trials, that necessitates having a jury. Whether the jury is assembled by paying them, giving incentives, or forcing them to come under duress seems to vary. But, putting aside whether jurors are consensually performing their duty or paid is one issue — whether they should be allowed to be required to wait for five hours in a room doing absolutely nothing is a very different consideration.
Imagine a brain surgeon whose time is worth $2000 per hour is summoned (or as I call it “drafted”) to do jury duty. But, all he does is sit in a room all day long. That is a gross waste of the individual’s time. And that waste is justified because the law stipulates that a jury needs to consist of a cross section of society. But, to get the higher level members of the cross section of society, is it fair to waste $1600 of their time having them just sit around? That seems criminal to me, yet society in its incompetence allows this.
The duration of trials is another point to be considered. Some trials go on and on and on with new evidence and witnesses being called in slowly day after day. If you have a critical job, you will get very behind while you are trapped in a court room which could affect your co-workers, boss, and customers. It seems that there should be limits as to how long a trial should last. It also seems logical that those with critical jobs be put on shorter trials. The courts used to honor hardship, but these days they do not which is dangerous.
Personally, I feel that for smaller cases, there should be an option to have a very quick trial where all witnesses come at once, there is almost no waiting time, and you get in and out in a few hours. Jury selection is another topic that takes time. But, a pre-selection could be done online or over the phone to see what a juror’s prejudices are which would help the court choose what type of case to put them on.
I wasted two hours in a court room where a police man was on trial a few years ago. I spent five hours waiting in the waiting room, then spent two hours in a court room only to find out that they couldn’t use me, perhaps because I mentioned having had several bad experiences with Los Angeles Police Department members. If my style of jury preparation had been used, all of the screening would have happened by phone the night before and they would have picked a nice short trial the next day for me to go to with no waiting time. Efficiency saves a lot of money, but the court system is government run and therefore not very good at erring on the side of efficiency.
I hope that my article was thought inspiring. I am very frustrated with having to do jury duty. I like being on a jury, but cannot stand being virtually kidnapped by the court system and than having my time wasted. When bank robbers rob a bank and then find themselves surrounded by the police, the hostages in the bank do very much the same activities you do on day one of jury duty — namely sitting in a room for hours on end doing absolutely nothing — oh, and having to ask permission to go to the bathroom.