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home : opinions : letters to the editor
January 26, 2020

9/21/2017 7:28:00 AM
Reader shares thoughts on jury duty

To the Editor:

I'd like to respond to the "Jurors serve justice and justice serves us all" letter to the editor. Oh, if this was only true. Though jury duty is considered to be the epitome of democracy, for many, serving on a jury is considered a burden. I myself, have been called for jury duty twice, Dupage County, Ill. and Oneida, County, Wis. and served on a jury in Dupage County. What I experienced was not a process that was fair and efficient nor welcoming and comfortable to the potential juror.

First off, it seems to me that the people who serve on juries are the ones not smart enough to get out of jury duty. Why do I say this? In Dupage County when potential jurors were questioned to determine their suitability for jury service only a small group at a time were brought into the courtroom. This was to ensure that people would not use similar reasons as to why they couldn't serve. Not so in Oneida County. All prospective jurors are brought into the courtroom so they could listen and learn various excuses such as claiming to be non-objective, showing prejudice, claiming to know witnesses, faking a hearing problem or claiming a medical reason (migraines). The hard of hearing excuse is one that should work for Oneida because the courtroom acoustics are terrible and even if you have a hearing aid the "Hearing Induction Loop" system has not been deployed.

Then there is the matter of compensation. All of the principals involved (judge, prosecutor, court reporter, etc.) are getting paid. Some of them of very well. The juror, in comparison, gets a pittance. Which can be a hardship because not all employers make up the difference in lost wages. Another consideration, why is it incumbent on the juror to figure out mileage reimbursement? With GPS maps available on the internet the county clerk can automatically calculate mileage. Also to show the state's gratitude to the juror taxes are deducted.

Lastly, there is an inherent injustice to the jury system. If you can afford it, you can hire the best defense lawyer and scientifically chose the best jury. If you are poor, you get a not so good attorney or an overworked, underfunded public defender. Since 1973, 151 people have been exonerated and released from death row. How many people are serving time for lesser crimes for which they were not guilty?

John Kocovsky

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