You know the feeling…. You open that envelope and with a sinking feeling, you realize that you’ve been called for jury duty. While it may be inconvenient, and frustrating (and in some cases, downright disturbing) the truth of the matter is that jury duty is an important part of the American judicial system. It’s part of what every person accused of a crime has a right to – a fair trial before a jury of their peers.
For many people, translates directly into lost income. A factor that makes jury duty a difficult proposition for many Michigan residents. However, a new bill making its way through the Legislature hopes to change that by increasing the pay that people receive for performing jury duty.
State Representative Pete Lucido is the one sponsoring House Bills 4209 and 4210. He said that his time spent working as an attorney is what led him to believe that this is an issue that needs to be fixed. He said that, having had the chance to talk to many jurors over the years, the issue that seemed to cause the most concern was the cost of parking.
He is hoping to address the fact that it has been almost 15 years since the amount paid to jurors has been raised. In addition to the fact that juror pay hasn’t increased to reflect inflation, sometimes it doesn’t even cover the cost of parking that jurors incur for the day.
Currently, Michigan pays its jurors $25 for a full day, and $12.50 for half of a day.
According to Rep. Lucido, some Michigan cities, like Detroit, charge as much as $20 to $25 a day to park, so for jurors who only serve a half day, they actually lose money. Lucido is hoping to raise Michigan’s juror pay to $30 for a full day, with $45 for every subsequent day, and $15 for a half day. It may not seem like much, but for people missing work and having to pay for daycare or parking, every little bit helps.
According to an analysis done by the House Fiscal Agency, Michigan currently pays about $5 million in juror compensation annually. Should the new bill be passed into law, it would cost the state an average of $5.84 million every year. However, even if the new bill passes, the updated rates would only be possible if the Juror Compensation Reimbursement Fund has enough money available at the end of the two most recent fiscal years.
As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we know how important the role of the juror is in the criminal justice system. Men and women who set aside their daily obligations in order to ensure that someone they’ve never met before gets what they are legally entitled to. It is a hard and selfless job, and we are very appreciative of the time that thousands of Michigan residents have given over the years. We are grateful for your participation, and honored to serve justice alongside you.