Injustice to jurors!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
On January 23, 2012, two suspicious-looking men in a pickup pulled up at my gate, and yes, it was a summons to appear in 'Her Majesty's Court', as a juror, or else!
Regarding the summons, I could not help being reminded of a verse in the Bible (Matthew 5:41) where Jesus alluded to a practice of the brutal occupying Romans to suddenly lay a burden on any non-Roman citizen and compel him to carry it to any distance commanded. The individual who refuses to comply refuses at peril of death or severe penalty.
In court, selected names from the pool of summoned jurors were called. Each was asked to state his/her profession. The 'highest' profession noted was teaching, and all the public-school teachers who requested were exempted. Most jurors were self-employed, including farmers. One female juror responded that she was unemployed. But the question, "How then will you be able to attend court daily?" was not forthcoming from the judge nor any member of the court staff.
One day after daily attendance, I noticed one of the other female jurors giving the unemployed female juror taxi fare to come to court the following day. Embarrassed at not being able to contribute, being inactively self-employed, I pretended to be unaware of what had transpired. (I myself had to borrow the money for taxi fare for the three weeks of jury service.)
I asked a judge what the remuneration for jury service was and was informed it was $500 daily! And the total amount would be paid two to three months after jury service was completed. The taxi fare alone for many of the jurors was more than $500 daily, apart from the cost of lunch!
Added to this unfairness, the self-employed juror is called upon to forego three weeks of earnings without any form of remuneration or compensation! Is any judge, or member of the court staff, or any politician (who legislated this law), despite their massive salary, willing to give up even one day of salary earnings for the sake of country, yet the already poor are compelled to make such a sacrifice?
It is now more than three months since, yet the 'mockery' remuneration has not come. On the other hand, judges and politicians, on a timely basis, are all paid their massive salaries.
Eltham Park, Spanish Town.