Every twelve months or so I get a juror summons. The last tree years or so I was excused using the juror hot line. This time around I exercised the same method. I called the hot line at 5:00pm Sunday evening and was informed that it was not necessary for me to report Monday morning. But, to call back at 11:00am for a possible report time of 1:00pm. At the call back time I was informed to report at 1:00pm. I drove over to the Oakland Rene C. Davidson Court house on Fallon and went into the juror waiting room.
At 1:30pm we were all sent upstairs to the court room, about 100 of us. The judge outlined the case for us. Stating it was a murder with special circumstance scheduled to start June 16, and expected to go through July 31, 2014. There were three Latino men charged and would be tried. These three Latino men reportedly with guns in their hands gunned down, murdered two people in Oakland near the San Leandro border. The judge continued, this is not a death penalty case. When I heard the judge say this is not a death penalty case, I wondered if that is because the District Attorney is against the death penalty. The three Latino men and their three attorneys were in court and were introduced to us.
The judge finished up with stating, the juror pay is $15.00 per day of service beginning the second day. He had a questionnaire for us to fill out. it was eight pages front and back of deeply personal questions for us to answer with great detail (per instruction). The questions wanted to know every place we lived our entire lives, every job we have ever had, every school we attended and our level of education. We were asked for the names of our siblings, parents and other relatives, and our race, organizations we are affiliated with, on and on.
This is where the ramifications of jury duty come in. The defense attorneys take all this personal information to question the juror under oath, to attack and rip the juror apart, in an effort to disqualify the juror and have the juror excused. It can be brutal. This is done while all the other perspective jurors waiting their turn, to get this brutal examination of their personal lives. The juror immediately becomes the defendant, not an innocent citizen performing a public service.
Five years ago I set through one of these interrogations by a defense attorney. I had to suffer through memories of loved ones that were killed in war while serving their country and relive the deaths of my parents. I was forced to detail my education, my work, where I lived all my life, why I changed jobs, why I moved, there was no end to it.
All of this for $15.00 per day. Why it is the minimum wage does not apply to jurors?