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Jury duty reimbursement is money paid to a citizen for performing the civic duty of jury service. Reimbursement is available for jury service in both state and federal courts, and each state has its own formula for reimbursing jurors. In the US, the right to a jury trial in both civil and criminal cases is guaranteed by the Constitution. Unlike voting, jury duty is not discretionary. Unless a juror is excused, jury service is expected of all citizens who are summoned.
Depending on the nature of the trial, jury service can last for a day to several months. The amount of daily reimbursement for jury service varies from state to state. It is meant to compensate the juror for lost wages and expenses associated with jury duty. Generally, the amount of compensation for court service increases with the length of the trial. The amount of jury duty reimbursement increases periodically to reflect cost of living.
In some jurisdictions, a juror’s employer is required to compensate the juror at regular pay for the first three to five days of jury duty. Thereafter, the state compensates the juror for each day of service. This is usually anywhere from $12 US Dollars (USD) to $50 USD. Most states prohibit employers from discharging or harassing employees for fulfilling the obligation of jury service. In some jurisdictions it is a criminal offense.
In states that require an employer to pay wages for a portion of jury service, unemployed and self-employed jurors are compensated for their time by the state. Jury duty reimbursement includes expenses like childcare, travel, and parking. For court service on lengthy trials, many states have extended service funds to reimburse jurors for lost income. After a certain number of days, the rate of daily compensation may be up to $300 USD.
Federal jury duty reimbursement is $40 USD per day. The compensation increases to $50 USD for every day after the tenth day of trial. Federal employees are paid their regular wages instead of a daily reimbursement. Jurors are also reimbursed for transportation, meals, and lodging if the jury is “sequestered” and made to stay overnight.
Federal law does not require employers to compensate employees for jury service. However, the Jury Act prohibits firing, intimidating, or coercing a permanent employee responding to a juror summons. The rate of compensation is the same for jurors deciding a trial as for those selected for a grand jury, which decides whether criminal indictments should be issued.
Most common law countries have some form of jury duty reimbursement. The provisions in the UK are similar to those in the US. Ireland does not reimburse jurors for their court service, however, Ireland’s Jury Act mandates that all employers pay their employees while they serve on a jury. Prospective jurors who are self-employed may be excused if jury duty would adversely affect their livelihood.
I have never served on jury duty myself, but I wonder how fair and impartial I could be if I were losing personal income every day. The jury duty reimbursement might not be enough incentive to spend days in deliberation or in sequestration. It would be my luck to get selected for a sensational murder trial that lasted for months. That's a long time for employers to hold a position open, and I'd be concerned the whole time that I wouldn't have a job when the trial was finally over.
I got summoned for petit jury duty a few years ago, and my employer at the time was not very happy about it. There weren't too many other employees who were trained to do what I did, so he had to take over my job while I was in court. The company did provide some compensation, but it wasn't for the same amount of hours I normally worked. The court's jury duty reimbursement wasn't much, maybe $20 a day, but it did make up the difference.
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