Monday, August 30, 2010

Jury duty and new media

Better watch out what you say on Facebook if you are a juror. One in Mount Clemens commented that the defendant in the trial she was attending was guilty, and the trial was not over. Juror may end up doing jail time.

The instructions given to jurors include warnings not to discuss the trial with anyone. Posting on Facebook is not only a discussion -- but one with a lot of people, and it is right out there for everyone to see.

One more instance of people who use social media and do not realize that it has much larger reach than casual conversation, and once it is posted, it is very hard to pull it back.

However, there is another side to jurors and social media. I was happy to discover during my own recent call to jury duty, that the pool of potential jurors can use cell phones and laptops while waiting in the jury room. This is a major improvement and takes some of the sting out of being called.

And while I say sting, I do not mean any disrespect for the juror system. I rather enjoy being called and getting away from the normal routine for a while. And I do find it disappointing that I am seldom chosen for a jury -- they seem to shun journalists.

But permit me to make one observation here. The only people in the judicial system who do not make money from it are the defendants (some of them, anyway) and the jurors. Compensation for jury duty is a joke -- particularly when you consider how many people now are self-employed, or contract workers. Jury pay is based on the notion that most jurors would be taking time off from work, still collecting their regular pay, and getting a little something extra for their time and trouble.

When the judge charges court expenses -- it should include fair compensation for the jurors.


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