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'Improved' Jury Service

May 21, 2000

I've just experienced the "new and improved" jury service at Pasadena Superior Court. They still have a long way to go. One day/one trial sounds great in theory. However, that one day may fall anywhere within a five-day period during which you are on call. If chosen, you will serve--for days, possibly weeks. Taken away are all financial hardship and other excuses.

Don't even try to talk to the clerks. It still takes all morning just to check in over 300 jurors, not one of whom is excused. Then lunch. Finally some of us are called to a courtroom. We wait in the hallway for an hour and 15 minutes. Inside the court, the judge says they have been working for an hour and a half and need a break. Come back in 15 minutes.

Then we spend an hour in voir dire, answering personal and sometimes painful questions in open court while a stenographer makes every word a matter of public record. Jurors chosen: two. Finally we are excused. My pay for serving is $5. Considering I only "worked" one hour out of eight, I guess that's not so bad.

DAWN DEL VECCHIO

Pasadena

* In reading about the changes in the jury system (one day/one trial, possible increased compensation) it would appear that the two could be coupled into something like this: No payment for the first day if you were dismissed, then $25-$50/day retroactive to the first day of duty.

This would give the incentive to report, increase the stipend for duty and reduce the clerical work of paying, reporting, etc. associated with the first day. I do not have the facts to calculate the cost; however, by eliminating the first-day reimbursement, the additional cost would certainly be below the figures quoted in your May 15 article.

JACK FRISCH

Manhattan Beach

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