Judges and court officials around the country say they are seeing the impact of the recession in courtrooms as an increasing number of potential jurors plea for dismissal over fears of financial ruin, reports the New York Times. While no one keeps overall statistics on juror excuses, those close to the process say that in many parts of the U.S. the trend of economic hardship claims is forcing courts to call an ever larger pool of jurors to meet their needs.
Ranae Johnson, the jury commissioner for Bonneville County, Idaho, said that she typically summoned 400 people for each two-week term of service, but that lately began to call 500 because of rising numbers of economic hardship claims. She read from her notes of recent calls. “I was laid off, have no car, no job and no friends that can even bring me there,” one caller had argued. Another said, “I cannot even afford the gas to have to come down there.” Judge Robert Rosenberg, in Florida, said in an interview that when the “pervasive cloud of financial insecurity” reaches the jury room, “a judge has to be sensitive to the economic times.”