“The Greatest Joy is to Work” – Lord John Worfen

Working working working… taking a few minutes for a mental-health break. Things are falling into place on the currently-biggest-hottest-heaviest of my projects. Red-penned the final assembly print this morning, my designer is putting all my edit scribbles in, I’ll review it this afternoon, and That Will Be Finished. Well, it’s Finished Until The Customer Changes Something. Which almost ALWAYS happens.

I still have to tickle a couple of suppliers for key components so we can assemble and test these things the first part of next week and deliver them next Wednesday.

Had some other admin tasks to accomplish today. Have most of them done, gotta couple more to do yet.

On the home front, got a call from a VERY happy K shortly before 11 this morning that she’s managed to escape Federal Grand Jury (as it turns out — they don’t say that on the jury summons as people would flee the 18-month commitment on a, um, grand scale) duty by dint of not having her number called to be seated. Lucky break for her, she can now resume her life.

Ponder this for a moment: you get a standard Federal Court jury summons. You make your arrangements with work, child care (if necessary), school (if necessary), other regular projects, and worry about how it may impact other parts of your life (such as a 2-week vacation you’ve already paid for and can’t get a refund on). You go down there on the appointed date, and only THEN do you discover that you’re in fact in the Grand Jury pool, which involves an 18-month commitment (they say it averages 6 days a month….), and, oh-by-the-way, the don’t accept any excuses. Pregnant? No problem, we even have a place you can breastfeed after the little bugger is born. Have a big project at work? Your employer is required by law to accommodate jury duty calls by employees {AJ: yeah, but they’re not obligated to not pass you up for promotion, raises, etc. when you’re NOT WORKING FOR THEM because of jury duty}. Self-employed? Guess you’ll just be closed those days and have to exist on the $40/day jury pay. Oh, and we don’t compensate you for lost business/sales/future business prospects. You have a vacation booked? Guess you’ll just have to cancel it. Student? Guess you won’t be in class those days. NO ONE has an acceptable excuse. Which I can sort of understand in the camel’s-nose-into-the-tent sort of context. Pretty soon, the whole damn camel is in there stepping on your good set-out-for-guests dinner plates and spitting on the bedding.

While I realize that jury duty is, indeed, a duty of every citizen of this country, and is a cornerstone of our justice system, it seems to me that requiring someone to put their entire life on “hold”, basically, for 18 months — A YEAR AND A HALF — is an onerous burden for nearly all intelligent, productive members of society.

Now watch: I’ll get called for the next Grand Jury pool…

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4 thoughts on ““The Greatest Joy is to Work” – Lord John Worfen

  1. fakefrenchie

    Yes, but if it were you in the docket, you’d be glad that there were “intelligent productive members of society” on the jury, non?

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      If I’m ever in front of a jury, grand or otherwise, as an alleged perp, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong already. The thing is, lawyers don’t want people like me in a jury. I’m logical, analytical, rational, so that rules me out for civil cases — either plaintiff, defense, or both are looking for an emotional reaction from the jury, and they won’t get that from me. In criminal cases, I’m somewhat predisposed toward the idea that if it’s gotten to trial, the alleged perp is very likely guilty: prosecutors don’t usually take unwinnable cases to trial. HOWEVER, the prosecution better bring its “A” game on evidence. My predisposition doesn’t let them off the hook on the proven-beyond-reasonable-doubt factor. But it’s typically enough that the defense will use one of its challenges on me during jury selection. IF, and this is a mighty big IF, I was to find myself in need of a favorable verdict from a jury, you bet I’d want it stacked with reasonable, intelligent people. Unless I needed 12 dumb guys that are easily convinced to go my way. Either way, though, something will have to have gone Horribly Wrong for me to wind up in dock. Getting back to the original point, service on a jury is, indeed, a duty of US citizens and I firmly believe it’s a cornerstone of our generally even-handed justice system. But jury service should not be a hardship on those called to serve. Let’s face it, even though there are laws that say your employer cannot legally fire you for jury service, there are countless people who, due to jury service for a long term, have not been fired but have had their job reassigned, and when they do return, it’s back to the bottom rung of the ladder. They have missed out on promotion, pay raises, etc. — and by being absent from the work environment, they are likely to be perceived as unproductive — who are the first folks to get broomed whenever it’s HR housecleaning time. If you’re working in a small business — say owner, owner’s wife, and you, you’re hosed. If you’re self-employed, you’re hosed. Not only do you lose the business on the days you’re actively on the jury, but you may well lose prospective business you hadn’t quite landed when called to serve, and further lose the chance to drum up new business that would put black ink in your ledger for months, if not years, AFTER your jury service is over. For this, you are compensated $40/day plus parking. That’s $5/hour for an 8-hour day. Below minimum wage. Result? Intelligent, productive people who are in a big hurry to render a verdict so they can get back to their lives as quickly as possible and minimize the disruptive ripple effect. If they’re in a hurry, they’re likely to make a mistake due to rushing past something key.

      Reply
  2. fakefrenchie

    You make a lot of excellent points. I guess my business isn’t such high pressure that I couldn’t tell my clients that I’d get to it tomorrow. And I’d probably get points with my clients for doing my civic duty. Still, don’t most grand jury trials take a long time? So you can’t really have a relay between jury members. There should be some way to reconcile the difficulties, but I can’t see my way through. Thanks for an interesting well-thought out response.

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      The Grand Jury reviews evidence in new cases and determines whether or not it’s sufficient to warrant formal charges and a trial. A Petite Jury is what hears the trial — and in a Federal case, the average trial is about 6 weeks long. Which means that while about half are shorter than 6 weeks, the other half are longer — and there have been cases that have been “on trial” for over a year! You also run the risk of having to be sequestered: the jury is put up, under guard, in a hotel somewhere, where what you can see, read, and listen to is restricted so you don’t inadvertantly hear a news report or editorial comment about the case; restricted contact with family, etc. If you are seated on a Grand Jury, you have an 18 month obligation, with actual jury work averaging about 6 days a month. HOWEVER… as it was explained to K, you don’t know when those days are in advance. You have to call in every evening to determine if you will be needed the next day. It’s like being on house arrest, basically, except that you’re not a criminal. You aren’t allowed to travel lest you miss a day — and if you miss a day, you can be found in contempt and fined and/or jailed! It’s a civic duty. What happens to the jurors during and after the trial, however, is not often addressed.

      Reply

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