Jurors Dodge Duty Amid Financial Fears

Citizens point to recession, unemployment in bid for dismissal
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 10:20 AM CDT
Jurors who convicted O.J. Simpson of armed robbery and kidnapping listen to a question from the media during a news conference at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Jury duty has always been a pain, but the tough economy is prompting more and more Americans to ditch their civic responsibility, the New York Times reports. While exact figures aren’t available, officials report that jurors increasingly cite financial worries in bids to get out of duty. “I cannot even afford the gas to have to come down there,” an Idaho resident says.

Others insist they could lose their jobs if they take time off, or that they need to search for work, and sympathetic judges have little choice but to dismiss them. But areas like Orange County, Fla., haven’t seen any decline in jury duty, despite steep hikes in unemployment. “We might actually have jurors who are looking to get the money,” an official says, referring to the modest sum jurors receive. Experts also point out that trials rarely last longer than a few days.