A friend in the Boston suburbs was recently sentenced to state court jury duty. He’s an immigrant, so he had some naïve questions, such as “What happens if you are stuck on in a long trial? Who pays your salary?” We had to explain to him that if you’re a government worker you get paid at 100 percent while you do no work, but if you’re a working-class day laborer you get nothing. The Maskachusetts law says that laptop class members will get money from their employers for at least the first three days of jury duty while the working class scrambles to find rent money.
Our self-employed friend would be getting $50 per day starting on Day 4 of his involuntary presence in the courthouse. Why is that interesting? Massachusetts minimum wage is $15 per hour (real money in pre-Biden terms!) and jury service may be 7 or more hours per day (i.e., minimum wage for this job would be over $100 per hour).
Why won’t the government abide by its own minimum wage law?
Separately, here are the livestream messages from our imprisoned friend:
- the jury pool is 90% white; we watched a video where nearly everyone was a person of color and a woman; video mentioned diversity three times; the video told us how blacks and women couldn’t serve on juries
- (responding to “what are prospective jurors talking about?”) just boring so far. we’re sitting quietly; everyone is on phones; or reading books if a geezer; i am the only one with a laptop
I asked about COVID-19 prevention. The virus was serious enough that some school systems in Maskachusetts were shut down for 18 months, 5-year-olds were ordered to get an experimental vaccine in order to be in public places, peasants were ordered to follow Fauci and wear their cloth masks, and it was illegal to work except in “essential” businesses such as marijuana stores. Our friend reported that the government crammed all of the potential jurors into a single room so that their respective respiratory viruses could be fully distributed. Only 2 out of about 60 jurors wore masks and nobody working for the court, including the judge, wore a mask.
After a 4-hour SARS-CoV-2 incubation session, which started at 8 am on a Wednesday, everyone was sent home. Not a single person out of the 60 present was needed. Cases were postponed or settled (#LoveWins?).
In one sense it isn’t surprisingly that an enterprise that pays nothing for labor would make no attempt to use labor efficiently. On the other hand, given that hardly any jury trial would get organized before 10:00 am (judges tend to hear motions at the beginning of the day), I’m surprised that the court makes people show up at 8:00 am. Why not at least let people sleep late and avoid rush hour? Or put people on a 1-hour standby list: potential jurors are not required to come in, but they must be available to show up within one hour of getting a call. I couldn’t find any court anywhere in the U.S. that does this, so presumably there is a flaw in the idea, but I can’t figure out what the flaw is.Full post, including comments