Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I've lived in Massachusetts for the past five years. They've been pretty good. However, in those five years I've been called to jury duty in Pittsfield twice, although never picked to serve, and, now, I've been called to Federal Jury Duty in Springfield. Does this seem a little excessive?

What bothers me about this latest summons is that I am now required by law to travel 150+ miles and lose 3 hours in my car every day that I serve. And I get a whoppin' $40 a day in exchange!!! Wooohooo!

By my calculations, I will be paying around $25 per trip in gas alone. If I were serving on a Grand Jury, I would get mileage @ $.485/ mile. But us peons in the lowly trial jury system have to help subsidize Exxon-Mobil on our own.

If I understand the procedure for the court, I will be on call for two months and have to check in every Friday to find out if I am to report on Monday for jury selection. It is possible that I will be selected to serve for more than one trial, although the court claims to try and make efforts to avoid that.

Am I alone in thinking that the current set-up is not only a pain in the ass, but severely discriminatory to those of us who live a considerable distance from the courthouse?

I wonder how long a system would last if they made folks in Boston drive 150 miles a day for $40.
Are there no options to opt out in any way whatsoever? Or do that little delay a year thing?

Strangely, I just got notice for jury duty locally. Just like the last time, when I still lived in Somerville, I'll probably show up and sent home in an hour.

Which could well happen to you, but it's still a waste of time and gas.
Massachusetts jury duty is different than federal. The two times I was called to court in Pittsfield I was not needed and my obligation was over *that* day.

The feds require me to be on call for two months regardless of whether I am picked or needed. I must call every Friday to see if I must go to Springfield on the following Monday for jury selection. And getting picked or sent home does *not* end your obligation. You must continue to call until your term is up (2 months.)

The excuses that the US court allows are broader than the state courts, but aside from a week of previously scheduled vacation with tickets already purchased, I will have to serve. I can expect at least a few, if not several days of traveling to Springfield. And g-d forbid I get selected to serve on a long trial. They had better set me up in a hotel or I will be a very grumpy juror.
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