NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why Not Paid Juries?

July 23, 2002

Judges and other court personnel are paid. So why are juries conscripted -- rather than being paid in the same way we now attract military personnel?

As in the debate which ended the military draft in 1973, there are the promises of certain benefits accruing from compensation to jurors.

  • Higher compensation for the military resulted in a better qualified pool of recruits -- and the same could be expected by compensating jurors.
  • It is said that a paid system would result in over-representation by the unemployed and poorly educated, but the college-educated could be attracted by appropriate wages -- and the jury selection process would ensure a representative group in each trial.
  • It is also claimed that jury service is a part of citizenship, but this is equally true of those who serve as paid judges.
  • There is the charge that the budgetary costs would be excessive, but this did not turn out to be the case in the volunteer army.

Proponents say the concept is worth at least a trial in some selected jurisdictions.

Source: Robert J. Barro (Hoover Institution), "Pleading the Case for a Paid-Jury System," Business Week, July 22, 2002.


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