Today, I’m not at work. I have jury duty. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about it, but I’m also pretty sure no one wants me on their jury. Why? Well, I’m a lawyer who has worked in criminal litigation, medical malpractice, and products liability. My parents also own a small business. That covers a number of the big cases. But I still get to go and sit in the jury room and wait to see what happens.
I’m one of the lucky ones. As a federal employee, I get court leave to go on jury duty. That means that as long as I have an official summons from a court, I get paid leave that doesn’t count against my accumulated vacation or sick leave. I’m one of the lucky ones. Sure, my boss isn’t exactly happy that I am going to be out of the office for an undetermined amount of time this week, but there’s no chance that I will lose my job or struggle to pay my bills due to my jury service.
I know most people would do anything to get out of jury service, and if you’re at risk of losing your job or not being able to pay your bills, I completely understand that urge. But for someone like me, it’s a pretty exciting prospect. Maybe it’s because I spent three years in law school, but I consider it a privilege. If you’re an American citizen, if you get charged with a crime, you have the right to a jury of your peers. And that means that you need people to serve on your jury. All in all, it’s a pretty cool thing.
But I’m still betting I’ll be back in the office by Tuesday.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
me in millions says
Isn’t it illegal to fire someone if they have jury duty?
It is, yes. But I’m going to be that it happens anyway. Of course, the fired person would have legal recourse – if they can afford it.
Meg, you forgot to mention that employers can pretty much always find another reason to say they fired someone. And in at-will states, you don’t even have to give a reason.
At any rate, my mom was a journalist, so she was in the same position as you, I think. In that, her job was very understanding, but it was rare she got picked for any jury because of what she did for a living.
Me, I might not mind doing my civic duty, but logistically speaking, I can’t do it. If My fatigue means I would be fine for a couple of hours, then the brain fog would take over. I would have a harder time keeping track of what was going on. I’m pretty much guaranteed to avoid jury duty for that reason alone. I wouldn’t mind doing it, abstractly speaking. But I also want people to have a capable jury deciding their fates.