Something To Do While Unemployed: Serve On A Jury

Did you know you can volunteer to serve on a jury? Apparently you can, says the New York Post. Unemployment is up and suddenly people are calling the New York courts and asking to serve.

From the NYP:

“People are calling up, saying, ‘Look, I lost my job; now would be a good time for me to serve,’ ” said Vincent Homenick, chief clerk of the jury division for Manhattan. “Not that $40 will pay the bills, but it’s something.”

Homenick said he has gotten about 20 calls since May from folks asking if they could become jurors — far more than normal.

“The jury pool is also more diverse than normal right now,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of Wall Streeters and other professionals. It’s not your typical jury of civil servants.”

Not all courts take volunteers, but if you have nothing better to do, why not?

Jury duty? Pick me, please! [NYP]
(Photo:hans s)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ronin-Democrat says:

    makes sense to me….. why not.
    also volunteer at least it will get you out of that x-box, high fructose corn syrup, bad diet stupor.

  2. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    I’ve been called a few times, but never selected. I don’t think they’d take me as a volunteer, either. Something about listing my hobbies as LARPing, D&D, and Heavy Metal seems to turn lawyers off to me sitting on a jury. :-/

  3. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    If it would reset the clock and prevent you from being called in the next two years, at the most inconvenient time possible (like 2 weeks into a NEW job!) than it would make sense.

    And like the first comment said, it could be a needed change in the day.

    • UGAdawg says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: Plus you might run into someone who can hook you up a job. It’s a possible networking opportunity.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @UGAdawg: Yup. After being presented with evidence during the case, you can take notes about what not to do when you decide to turn to a life of crime.

        • UGAdawg says:

          @Applekid: Not during a case. Usually there’s a time before you get assigned to a jury pool for a case. I was sitting in the main reception area for a good couple of hours before getting called. I then went into a courtroom to be selected. I would call that time sitting in the reception area to be ideal.

  4. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    I admit that when I was laid off a couple of years ago, boredom was definitely my biggest enemy. However, I don’t believe that volunteering for jury duty is the smartest way to alleviate that.

    Assuming that one is still looking for work, one needs to find a way to kill time while leaving oneself available for interviews and sudden hirings. If you volunteer for jury duty, I’m not sure the judge will be too keen on you saying, “Your honor, I’ve got a job interview tomorrow so I’m not going to be able to make it in for deliberations until 2:30ish.”

  5. ponycyndi says:

    Around here, jury duty pays $6.50 a DAY, and parking downtown is minimum $5.

    Unless the rules are different when you are unemployed, and suddenly they pay $40, I hardly think it’s worth it, especially condsidering I’d be spending another $10 on gas just to get there.

    • voogru says:

      @ponycyndi: This is why jury trials usually come up with really stupid decisions. Only people left are the ones that couldnt figure out a good excuse to get out of doing jury duty.

      Not the brightest crayons in the box. If jury duty actually paid well, then perhaps people wouldn’t be going through so much trouble to dodge it.

    • colorisnteverything says:


      That is the case here,too! I have always wanted to do jury duty – just shoot me – but my involvement with volunteering to help juvenile defendants with community as a Teen Court educator and the fact that I love to argue, am very opinionated, and also applying to PhD positions in political science and public policy as well as getting a Poli Sci BA in May limits me, according to my friend who is a judge. As a prosecutor, she would probably have liked me, but not as a defense attorney she stated.

      My Dad always gets picked and he usually has auditors or something big going on at work. The last time he had to go to court just to explain why the IRS wouldn’t let him off work (he would have relished it I am sure! Who likes auditors?!) and it cost him $10.00 or something rediculous to park his car and he didn’t get reimbursed. I think it pays $15.00 a day and no reimbursement and NO public transit to district court. That wouldn’t even begin to pay for his food, either.

    • madanthony says:


      Baltimore County pays $15 a day, plus they validate parking, so you don’t pay for it.

      And they have free wifi in the waiting room, but not nearly enough power outlets. And the wi-fi was pretty locked down – I couldn’t rdc or run citrix apps.

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    I so wish we had professional juries taken from experts (perhaps retired) in the appropriate field.

    If it’s a malpractice case, would scientists, doctors, nurses and those with a medical background be better qualified to evaluate the evidence, rather than average citizens?

    It is supposed to be a jury of your peers, yet seldom is.

    • wgrune says:


      I totally agree but think juries should be comprised of retred judges. They would be less likely to fall for the tricks of sleazy lawyers and wowed by forensic evidence that is possibly less than scientific.

    • Aquaria says:

      @SkokieGuy: I agree completely. Being an oil and gas accountant, I would have *loved* to be on the jury on any one of the Enron trials, and I think I would have understood a lot better than a layperson on what accounting shenanigans were being alleged. But they would have struck me before I could say “oil”.

    • azntg says:

      @SkokieGuy: Actually, I see that “professional jury” being problematic in its own right.

      There are honest people out there, but with varying shades. All you need is one bad thing to spoil it for the rest.

      For example, in that malpractice case with the jury being composed nearly exclusively of those with medical backgrounds, there’s a very good chance of conflict of interest.

      See, even with the jurors not knowing the defendant/plaintiff personally, those with medical backgrounds are also equally likely to get hit with malpractice suits. I can easily see the jury showing sympathy and fear of retribution (with or without a trial) and erring to the side of acquittal, even if it actually turns out to be a legitimate case of malpractice.

      • lilyHaze says:

        @azntg: I could see that. I’m an IT professional, and jurors (and most judges) have a really difficult time understanding the technical details of a case. I’m thinking of the recent music pirating trials where even the judges had difficulties understanding IP addresses, etc.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    What does it say about me if I’ve never been summoned? Nearly everyone I know has been summoned for jury duty, but I haven’t. Mr. Pi hasn’t either, but the important thing is that I haven’t been summoned. I mean, I make really good cookies.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: My mom wasn’t summoned for quite a while. Then, when she finally got her first summons, she was eight months pregnant.

      Lousy timing.

    • nbs2 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I haven’t either. It makes me sad. The Missus has had one jury summons in the 4.5 years we’ve been married.

    • Kuchen says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: The only time I was summoned I had just registered to vote, but wasn’t actually 18 yet (I could register for the local election because I was going to be 18 by the next general election). I couldn’t legally be on a jury though, because I was only 17.

      • mk says:

        @Kuchen: I was summoned once, almost got on a jury but then they let us all go. Mr. HeMan has been summoned several times despite the fact that he is not a citizen of this country and tells them so each time.

        • Areia says:

          @melking: I’ve been summoned once in the four years I’ve lived in the US. I was actually sort of disappointed to find I couldn’t serve until I’m a citizen.

    • BytheSea says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: That you’re not registered to vote?

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @BytheSea: Most states also use drivers license & state ID records and sometimes property ownership records … taking voters only would be far too small a pool.

        If your state has a poor merge process for those records, or if you have a different name in different places (“John Q. Public” on your license but “John Quincy Public” on your voters card), that’s the most typical reason for being called “too often” and most states can do a manual merge to get your identities together and only call you the right amount.

    • drjayphd says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I’d never been summoned until about two months after I got fired. That was almost 10 years of eligibility.

  8. FatLynn says:

    I’ve always wanted to be called for jury duty, and the one time I got a summons at my old address, my mother wrote “no such addressee, return to sender” before I had a chance.

    (Seeing that it was more than THREE YEARS after I changed the address on both my DL and voter registration, they really shouldn’t have been summoning me there)

    • SirWill says:

      @FatLynn: Now that is funny. I got a summons earlier this year. It was mailed to my OLD address, one that I moved out of 1.5 years earlier, forwarding was expired. The only reason I found out about is, my old postal delivery person recognized the name, and manually wrote my new address on it, and put it in the new carriers slot to deliver to me. It wasn’t the summons, but rather the notice that I MISSED my assigned date / time.

      I called the number and explained that I had moved out over 1.5 years ago. That I had changed both my drivers license and my voter registration. She said they used voter registration information. I said, well I voted last year in the primary and general election at my new address. In other words my voter registration was up to date. She tried to argue with me. I quickly just told her that I would LOVE to serve on a jury and can we re-schedule. She said yes. We scheduled for December this year. I was thrilled, I have an employer that pays me while serving… Then I just got a new job offer. I start 12/1. I would be serving 2 weeks after starting a new job. I called, and they were kind enough to postpone it to April, long after my 90 day window before I can take any time off.

      I have never been summoned until now, and I’m 41 have lived almost my entire life in this county.

      Oh, and we get paid a whopping $10 a day.. with free parking. But I don’t know about WIFI yet… ;)

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I fully support this. One: unemployed people get a small boon. Two: employed person then become less likely to have to serve on a jury and thus no longer have to be bothered by their public service duties. It’s a win-win!!

    • XTC46 says:

      @Loias: I agree. I think the unemployment line should be the first stop of calling jurors.

      But im guessing in doing so, the vast majority of people unemployed would be disqualifed from being a juror for the same reasons they cant get jobs.

  10. barb95 says:

    Ugh, Jury Duty is boring. Most of the cases are not the exciting stuff you see on TV. I sat on a jury pool for two days on a misdemeanor case and the two attorneys were so junior that the judge had to coach them through the entire process. I was soooo happy when I was let go.

    What was fun were the excuses people came up with to get out of it. A lady who spoke perfect English and was a human resources rep said she only understoon 50% English (she was a Philipino-American). The judge made her repeat it 5 times then excused her. 10 people used that excuse in the same day. Hilarious.

    • Jesse in Japan says:

      @barb95: The best way to get out of jury duty without getting a contempt of court is to just ask a lot of very specific questions about the procedure.

  11. joeblevins says:

    I am almost 40yos and never got summoned either. I have always wanted to do it, just never got the summons. I even have a job that makes it easy to go to jury duty.

  12. IphtashuFitz says:

    I actually would like to serve on a jury. I think it would be an interesting experience. A couple years ago I sat in as an observer on a murder trial (the wife of an acquaintance was stabbed to death during a home invasion) and found it rather interesting, if not very dry. Of course most court cases likely aren’t that interesting, but still…

  13. RandomHookup says:

    I’m curious — are there states where accepting even the small payout for jury duty would disqualify you from unemployment payments for that week? Some states let you earn a certain amount without making you requalify (and may or may not offset your earnings against your UI), but I had heard that some states won’t let you earn anything… Having to go through the process (even if it’s quick and simple) to requalify and then wait a couple of extra weeks for your check would be a painful way of doing your civic duty.

    • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

      @RandomHookup: When I was on unemployment, any income would just deduct from that week’s payment. So you wouldn’t be any worse or better off, I suppose.

      • RandomHookup says:

        @Ayarkay: I’ve heard of that, but I was wondering if there were still states where any money earned means no unemployment for the week. Here in Mass. we are lucky — no deductions from UI until you earn 20% of your weekly payment (max of over $600 here, so you could work some hours and still get full UI).

    • H3ion says:

      @RandomHookup: Here in Maryland the daily stipend is $15 and they recommend that you donate it to charity.

  14. Jesse says:

    It’s amazing how people who want to serve on juries never seem to get summoned but the folks who think it’s a waste of time and fight tooth and nail to get out of it are the ones who get called.

    Maybe they pull from the list of people who don’t vote regularly. Who knows.

  15. SG-Cleve says:

    I have served on jury duty several times. The new jurors arrive Monday morning at the county courthouse in a sour mood complaining about being forced to give up a week of their time.

    By the end of the week pretty much everyone who was picked to serve on a jury says it was a worthwhile experience and are glad they did it.

  16. humphrmi says:

    I got called last year and my employer pays for time off for jury duty (and lets us keep any payments from the court) so it was a pretty good deal. I was one of the first groups called in to a court room, but then was weeded out randomly (they called 20 people for a six person civil trial jury and got their agreed six before I was even asked a voir dir question.)

  17. StanTheManDean says:

    No, you can not volunteer to serve on a Jury.

    I alreay petitioned the state. Sorry, no go.

    The State is worried that somebody might volunteer to serve in hopes of being called for a specific case.

  18. Yurei says:

    Dude, $40 in NY? Sign me up! Here we get $10/day apparently, as my bf just got called to go whilst unemployed. What a waste of his time. /sigh/

  19. edrebber says:

    Suppose it comes out in the trial that the defendant is someone who just layed off workers from their company?

  20. cmdrsass says:

    It’s a shame that such an important job pays less in a day than you can make panhandling for an hour.

  21. KittensRCute! says:

    i have a question, i am disabled so i would need to take public transit to jury duty, so my question is, can i request jury duty in a different county or nearby state, if it is easier to get to by public transit.

  22. takotchi says:

    Before I found my first job out of college, I was an election officer (poll worker). It only happens once a year (usually), and it is a -really- long day, but it was about 100 bucks and was kind of fun, so it wasn’t that bad.

  23. SpruceStreetPhil - in a new Pine flavor says:

    they should have a checkbox on voter registration cards on whether you want to serve or not on a jury. Obviously this would bias the pool if they only chose these people but maybe 2/3s of them wouldn’t hurt.

  24. morlo says:

    $0 for the first three days in MA.

  25. OmicroN says:

    Back in 2001 when I was unemployed, I contacted the DuPage County (Illinois) Jury Commission and offered to volunteer. I was told that would be considered jury tampering, and the jury is selected at random through those who have Illinois Drivers Licenses and registered voters. My wife has been called THREE times to my ZERO, and I think it’s totally unfair. I WANT to participate in the jury process….

  26. halcyondays says:

    I served on jury a few years ago. I believe it was 5 days and I was paid $100. It was a worthwhile experience but I wouldn’t really want to do it again.

  27. SatisfriedCrustomer says:

    The trial I served on was awesome. It all depends on how nice the judge is. At this trial, one lawyer was objecting after every other question and the judge finally took a huge bag of Hersheys Miniatures out from under his bench and starting throwing handfuls of them into the courtroom after each objection and whoever caught them could eat them. At one point he also squirted a water pistol at the defendant. OK, I’m just kidding about all this but you never know, yours could be the first jury trial where they do this. :)

  28. swearint says:

    I served on a jury for a aggravated sexual assault case back in my college days during the summer. It lasted about a week and I enjoyed the experience. I found the whole experience very enlightening, and I can say that I am responsible for putting a serial rapist away for life. The fascinating part came after we were done and the prosecutor was able to disclose a lot of information that was excluded. By the way, this was in Texas where the defendant gets the option of the jury determining sentencing.

  29. ric2046 says:

    I seem to get a summons every couple of years. Though I’m not unemployed, I still like to get out of the office once in a while. I like to think of jury duty as a temporary side job. Maybe someday I’ll actually get selected as a juror!

  30. littlemisslondon says:

    I’ve never been called to serve, and I’d kind of like to be. I think I’d be a good juror.

    (Though I hope they don’t call me anytime soon; I’m a nursing mom and I don’t know if they’ll let you out of it to nurse your kid.)

  31. zekebullseye says:

    I’m a psychiatrist. I’m thinking there’s no way I’d ever be chosen for a jury.