Should we be paying jurors more for service?
Is it time to revise payment rates for jurors? Lately I have had several queries to my office regarding the payment rate to jurors for jury service time.
Jury service is paid at $31 per half day for the first five days and rises to $89 per day after that. The question was also asked if any consideration would be being given to pay equity. I am aware that some employers make up any difference, but these are good questions.
Seeking answers, I wrote to the Minister for Justice: “What steps is the Minister taking to improve pay rates for jurors who undertake jury service?” and “Will the Minister consider juror ‘pay equity’ so that jurors who had to take time off work could receive compensation commensurate with their current hourly rates of pay?” The response I received was that there are currently no plans to review the fees and expenses paid to jurors at this time.
The issue of jury service pay is an interesting discussion and my line of questioning was subsequently picked up by the Law Society.
The Ministry of Justice website states that jury service pay is not meant to replace lost earnings and is more of a thank you for service. The response I received shows this government is clearly not prepared to review payments. However, the previous government’s Minister of Justice, the Hon Amy Adams, is on record as being prepared to relook at the whole issue. The principle that, in a democratic society, we all have a responsibility for justice which includes jury service, and a jury that best represents a cross section of society, is sound.
One of the questions to raise then is whether we achieve this with a mechanism that may penalise wage and salary workers for undertaking jury service, or is this just the price of democracy? Do wage and salary earners, who may be taking a loss for undertaking jury service, perform with the best mind set and composure, or does the knowledge of potential financial loss predispose a Day 1 negative attitude and clock watching, neither of which we want in a jury? I am interested to hear your views on this topic. Join the conversation on my Facebook page.