Jurors Say They Can’t Serve In Poor Economy


When a Palm Beach County judge asked 70 potential jurors how many could not serve because of a financial hardship, more than half of them rose to their feet, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m a single parent and I just got laid off yesterday,” John Brisby, a 45-year-old divorced father of two, told the judge. The number of jurors asking to be excused because of economic pressures is increasing across the nation.

With climbing unemployment, waves of home foreclosures, and worries that time away from work could cost jobs, judges are finding it harder to seat juries, especially for trials expected to last longer than a day. “They feel very insecure about their job status and there are those who say, “So many people have been laid off where I work, they can’t do without me,'” said Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld. “For them to serve more than a couple of days, that’s always been an issue in a longer trial. But it’s gotten progressively worse in the last three months.”Judges and other experts say the problem could lead to clogged judicial systems across the nation and more of a strain on courts already hurt from budget cuts. And it could increase some court costs for taxpayers. “It’s a little harder these days,” said Richard Gabriel, president of Decision Analysis, a national trial consulting firm in Los Angeles. “I think what we’re going to see is a little bit of a slowdown. Some states are even having shorter court days.” Local judges say there’s a growing worry that trials are starting to be affected by the troubled economy. “I think there’s definitely a sense throughout the courthouse that it’s harder to get people to sit for the lengthier trials for that reason,” said Palm Beach Judge Krista Marx.

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