For some Californians, getting a jury duty summons is just an inconvenience; however, for others, it can be a financial obstacle.
A jury duty summons can take a working state resident away from their job for quite some time, resulting in a smaller paycheck and less money to afford necessities.
“No person should be dissuaded from serving on a jury just because of financial hardship,” California Assemblymember Phil Ting told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We ask every American to be part of a fair and equitable justice system, and we should figure out how to compensate them so they can do their civic duty.”
Currently, a juror would be paid $15 per day if a civil or criminal trial lasts more than a day unless their employer pays them for their time off.
To make jury duty less of a financial hardship for state residents, Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced a bill that would pay low-income jurors $100 per day for serving during a criminal case.
State funding would support the increased pay, according to The San Francisco Chronicle
To qualify for the increased pay, a juror’s 12-month income must be “less than 80% of the area median income of the county where the superior court is located,” according to the bill’s text.
In addition to the income requirement, the juror must either be unemployed or self-employed or not receive compensation from their employer due to jury duty compliance.
A pilot program in San Francisco, known as “Be The Jury,” found that people of color and low-income residents who received the additional payments were more eager to serve as a juror.
Ting’s bill would also help ensure that courtrooms are filled with jurors from all walks of life.
The “Be The Jury” report found that jurors tended to be those from wealthier backgrounds since low-income residents couldn’t always afford the time off work.
Ting’s bill was introduced on Valentine’s Day to his colleagues in the California State Assembly. The bill has not been voted on yet.