Paying for a jury in Ala.

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2008

The issue: An Alabama district attorney has called for an increase in jury pay.

Our position: If one is seriously considered by the Legislature, a raise should be limited.

Sitting on a jury in Alabama almost could cost someone. Right now, the pay for jury duty is pretty low &045; $10 a day and 5 cents a mile for travel.

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That&8217;s pretty bad if you have to go 20 or 30 miles to the courthouse at $3 per gallon of gas for a couple of days.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly wants to raise the rate of jury pay.

Some states, like Arkansas, make jury sitting worthwhile. Jurors there receive $50 a day in state courts, and federal jurors get $40 per day.

Think of a three-day trial in Arkansas with 12 jurors plus two alternates &045; $2,100. Now, that&8217;s just one trial. Usually several occur during a criminal session of court. A whopping $2,100 for trials comes out of the pockets of local taxpayers. Counties pay for state trials.

Now, consider that every citizen has a duty to give back to the community. Call it a public service, if you will. One of the freedoms guaranteed us is the right to a trial by a jury of our peers.

We feel sorry for Connolly, understanding that most people don&8217;t like to serve on juries.

On the other hand, a little boost in travel money would be nice for those trips to the courthouse.

Alabama law already requires employers to pay workers for those days missed.

But a $50 per day check for listening to a trial?

We wouldn&8217;t go that high for something that is public service.

If the Legislature looks at this

seriously, it should reach some point of moderation.