State to increase jury duty wages |

State to increase jury duty wages

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

Although it is the backbone of the judicial system, most people dread the two words that signify long, boring hours of sitting across from suspected criminals. California residents now have less reason for dismay.

Last month the state announced a three-fold raise in juror pay to soothe the pains of democratic responsibility.

California residents selected to serve the system now make $15 a day, up from $5. Since companies don’t have to pay employees for hours missed in order to serve jury duty, the increase may help.

This increase is the first in 43 years and is part of a statewide campaign by the Judicial Council, which is the policy-making body of the government’s judicial branch.

Funding for the hike was included in the state’s fiscal year 2000-2001 budget.

Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury said the more than 8,000 El Dorado County residents called for jury duty deserve the much-needed increase.

“Juries are the bedrock of our justice system,” Kingsbury said. “We appreciate the increase being provided to those who have to serve more than one day. All the judges in El Dorado County encourage the legislature to build on this change and to increase the daily fee in future years,” Kingsbury added.

Sandy Hansen, county jury coordinator, said she anticipates people will appreciate the raise. However, she said she hasn’t received much response since there haven’t been enough jurors called since the new rate went into effect.

“I think these people deserve it,” Hansen said. “This is a responsibility of citizenship. We appreciate our jurors.”

The number of days jurors will be paid was also changed. Previously jurors were paid for the first day they were called plus mileage of 15 cents per mile, one way. Now jurors will only be paid upon the second day, but will still receive mileage pay.

Hansen said jurors will have three options in dealing with the first day mileage pay.

The juror can opt to receive the mileage fee, donate it to charity or waive the payment to help reduce the administrative costs of writing checks for typically small amounts. Hansen said the donation option still has to be approved by all the judges to make sure they are comfortable with the new procedure.

“Not only might it be beneficial to the community, but it will also benefit the county by its not having to go through the accounting procedures,” Hansen said.

Breakout Box:

n Effective July 1, jurors received a pay raise from $5 a day to $15, starting with the second day of service.

n A mileage fee of 15 cents per mile, one way, will continue to be paid to all jurors beginning with the first day of service.

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