I have been called to serve as a juror in Cook County, Illinois.
I’m self-employed, so I don’t have an employer to pay me for jury service, but the good news is that we have a one day/one trial policy which means I will be stuck there for only a day unless I get assigned to a trial.
The bad news is that the court system is a government operation, which means they have little sense of anything that might be construed as customer service. There are a lot of rules listed on the web site:
- “Shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops and halters are NOT permitted. If you report wearing any of these items, you will be asked to return home, at your own expense, to change into more suitable attire.” I wasn’t planning to wear any of those things, but what’s it to them if I do? You can’t even see shorts and skirts in the juror box, can you?.
- “Jurors may NOT bring cameras, walkmans, radios or cellular phones. The jury assembly room staff will store any of these items that a juror brings until the juror leaves for the day.”
- They want me to get there at 8:30 in the morning.
- Payment is $17.20 per day. It isn’t even minimum wage. If I were serving downtown, that would probably not cover my parking costs. The Chicago city council has been trying to pass a living wage law for a while now. How about paying jurors a living wage?
- “Pay phones and vending machines are located in the jury assembly room. If you plan to make calls or purchase vending items, please bring enough change. Jury assembly room staff will not be able to provide change.” Of course, a change machine is too much to ask for. I cynically suspect that the no-cell-phones rule is at the request of the payphone provider.
- “All courthouses have metal detectors and x-ray machines which all potential jurors must pass through to gain access to the facility. If you bring any item which building security believes could be used as a weapon, the item will be taken from you and dealt with by the authorities.” Metal detectors. I hate metal detectors. Most days, I routinely carry a lot of pocket change, a lot of keys, a heavy wrist watch, a flashlight, a wallet chain, a cell phone, a USB memory stick, sunglasses, and a Swiss Army knife. I’ll have to empty most of that out just to make it in the door.
Yeah, I know, I’m whining. But keep in mind that all of us in the jury pool are citizens performing a duty for our country. A little more courtesy would be nice.
Actually, if past service is any guide, jurors assigned to a case are treated much better. I figure that’s because we’ll do a lot more damage if we make trouble, and nobody in the courtroom wants that.