Note: Joe is a 'Friend of the Desk'. His Opinions are his. Email sent to the Desk about his views will be forwarded to him.
Trial by jury came with the colonists from England. One of the grievances against the King of Great Britain listed in the Declaration of Independence was depriving the colonists in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury. Trial by jury is now guaranteed as a fundamental right and part of due process of law by the Constitutions of the State of Delaware and of the United States of America.
Jury service is a high duty of citizenship. Jurors play an important part in the pursuit of justice. The protection of our rights is largely achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury who put into practice the principles of our great heritage of liberty under law. The jury's function is to find the facts and the judge's function is to state the law. The jury applies the law to the facts to reach a verdict. Jurors' greatest reward is the knowledge that they have discharged their duty to give a true, just and fair verdict according to the evidence and law.
In my wonderful state 33,000 plus normal citizens can be heard agonizing over the following. The official envelope from the Prothonotary's Office has quietly arrived in your mailbox. Now what? Your first emotion will be anger and that is okay, you should be angry. Jury duty is not a process you signed up for out of the goodness of your heart. Because...
"The Court is unable to accept volunteer jurors because, by Delaware law, jurors' names must be randomly selected from the Motor/Voter lists. Additionally, Delaware law mandates that the Court's jurors be representative of the community in which they live. To use only retired or unemployed people as jurors would be against the law."What?!? It is against the law to have a hearts desire to serve your state and willfully enlist for jury duty, but, it is NOT against the law to be FORCED to serve as a juror. Is this writer dense or did I just miss something?
Get ready for a financial burden. My state puts it this way...
"Jurors are not paid, but they are reimbursed for some of the expenses they incur as a result of jury duty. The reimbursement rate is $20 a day."WOW! $20.00 a day for a length of service that can last up to 8 hours. At this writing Federal Minimal Wage is $5.15 per hour, 8 hours at $5.15 per is $41.20. So any hardworking citizen can receive a financial win fall of MINUS $21.20 per day for jury duty service. Yippee, sign me up. Oh, a normal jury duty stint is two weeks (unless you get a trail, then jury duty may last longer). So, if I make minimal wage and last the full two-week, I stand to LOSE $169.60 for my troubles. Again, sign me up. Oh, if you are a juror in an area that you have to pay to park,
"Parking in downtown Wilmington is difficult to find and costs on average $7.50 per day. Parking is an out-of-pocket expense for you."I want to get out of this state assigned pleasure? Good luck. You will have to beg or fabricate something monumental to be released from the joys of jury duty. No! You cannot claim economic hardship. Remember that serving on a jury is a privilege.
Well then forget it, I won't show up! Oh yea, get this.
"If you fail to appear for jury duty, you'll receive a postcard in the mail telling you that you missed your summons date and that you should call the Court. If you call the Court, all will be well, and you'll simply be assigned another date to appear. If you fail to appear for the second time, the court will have a Deputy Sheriff serve a summons to you at your house. If you fail to appear again, a Deputy Sheriff will then serve you with a Rule to Show Cause, where you must come before a judge of Superior Court to explain why you did not report for jury duty as summoned. The judge could fine you as much as $50, and imprison you up to three days. If your fail to appear for the Rule to Show Cause, a civil capias is issued."If you don't show up you will be in the hot seat and YOU will be the cause of someone else being a juror.
Remember, if you signed up to vote or drive an automobile you signed up for Jury Duty.
Writers Note: All italicized information comes from the Frequently Asked Questions from the State of Delaware's Superior Court website http://courts.state.de.us/superior/
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