Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Six - to - Eight - Weeks???

Well, I had to do something really hard today... I had to write a letter to the Circuit Court of Oregon for Multnomah County and ask to be excused from jury duty.

This may not seem like such a big deal... people try to get out of jury duty all the time, after all. It's a big deal to me, though. I really do believe that it's a duty every citizen of the United States is honor-bound to partake in. It's one of the prices we pay for living in this country - that we'll take time out of our lives, come together, and apply our own community standards in judging people accused of breaking the law. The fact that so many people get out of jury duty has helped to put our legal system in the state it's currently in - where the right to a speedy trial is laughable, and court verdicts are hard for people in the community to understand. Not to mention the fact that the "jury of your peers" you'll be judged by if you ever get put on trial is going to be made up of people who weren't smart or ingenious enough to get out of jury duty.

All that being said... I had to write the letter asking to be excused, and it pained me to do so.

Why, you might ask, did I do this if I feel so strongly in our individual responsibility to take part in the jury process? Because the proposed period of the jury panel they wanted me for was six-t0-eight-weeks long! I don't work a nine-to-five job with a boss who'll pay me while I take that much time to be on a jury panel; I'm self-employed, and I only get paid for the hours I work at a client's office. If I'm unavailable for six-to-eight weeks, Trish and I are going to have a hard time putting food on the table, let alone paying the mortgage (I don't mean to minimze Trish's financial contribution to our household income, but at the moment I'm the one bringing in the majority of the money). I would get paid for my Jury service, of course... $10 the first two days, and $25.00 for each day after that. That's not going to cover our expenses. Not by a long shot.

I dream of a time when we'll be able to pay people called for jury duty a stipend commensurate to the wages they'll be losing by engaging in their service. I certainly don't think that we have to pay people full salaries for service they're required to engage in for the community (that'd kind of defeat the purpose of manditory service, and we'd bankrupt the coffers when we called high-paid executives to be enpanneled), but something approaching minimum wage would be nice.

So, I wrote the letter, and hated myself for doing it. We'll have to see if I get excused or not... if not, I don't think I'll be laying out much cash for anything but bare essentials for quite a while.

Hope you're all doing well...