Medina County Courthouse

Monday, February 01, 2010

Judges Oppose Cutting Medina County Juror Fees

I appeared before the Medina County Board of Commissioners on Monday, February 1, 2010, on behalf of myself and Judge Christopher Collier to ask the County Commissioners to reconsider their decision to cut fees for jury duty. Medina County Clerk of Courts Kathy Fortney also appeared.

Presently the juror fees are set at $20.00 per day. Juror fees have not been increased since 2000. The County Commissioners plans on cutting them to $10.00 per day starting on March 1, 2010. Judge Collier and myself oppose this reduction for the following reasons:

1. Jurors perform an invaluable service to our county.

Jurors are governmental officials. They are selected to make some of the most important decisions that governmental officials can make. They decide whether someone is guilty or not guilty of a crime or whether a person or business can recover in a civil lawsuit. By reducing the amount of compensation that jurors receive, you are sending the message that Medina County doesn’t value their service. At a time when people are already cynical about government, this is exactly the wrong message to be sending.

2. Jury duty can be a financial hardship.

While some employers compensate their employees for jury service, many more do not. Those jurors who are already losing pay for jury service should not have their compensation from the county reduced by $10.00 per day. What may seem like a small amount to the Board can be a much larger amount to a single mother struggling to raise her children.

3. It will make it harder to get people to serve as jurors.

While many Medina County residents want to serve as jurors and look forward to the experience, many more do not. We are afraid that once potential jurors learn of this planned reduction, more of them will attempt to get out of jury duty. It will make our mission of doing justice harder to fulfill.

4. It will be costly.

Each of our courtrooms ordered juror summons for 2010. The summonses for jury duty have already been run off and are being sent out on a weekly basis. The jury duty summonses state that jurors will be compensated at the rate of $20.00 per day. Frankly, it would impose a burden on our staffs to redo these summonses. If we don’t redo them, then we will have to explain to our potential jurors that the juror fees listed on the summonses have been reduced. Neither of these alternatives are good ones.

Medina County Clerk of Courts Kathy Fortney pointed out that last year 2495 jurors served as jurors in Judge Collier's court and my court. The cost for their service was $80,600. Judge Collier and myself don't think that a savings of between $40,000and $50,000.00 is worth the cost to the Medina County justice system.

I also pointed out to the Commissioners that like judges and county commissioners, jurors are during the time that the serve governmental officials. Like ourselves they make very important decisions. Like ourselves they take an oath of office to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Ohio. Unlike ourselves, however, they are being asked to have their compensation for their service cut 50%.

For those reasons, we asked the County Commissioners to reconsider their decision.

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