It’s not often that a newspaper runs a story that debunks common misconceptions about jury duty, so I single out a good example of such reporting that comes from the Richmond Register. The author makes jury duty sound much less intimidating than people imagine it to be, but she devotes the most attention to telling prospective jurors that they are not exempt even if they think they are.
The last detail is my favorite, and I excerpt it here:
Your boss can go to jail if he threatens and/or fires you over having to serve jury duty.
TRUE …For example, a person who works at night cannot still be required to pull a night shift even while serving on a jury during the day…Under Kentucky law, if an employer threatens employees with termination or actually fires them because they are absent for jury duty, the workers can file a civil lawsuit for lost wages against the employer…Also, if an employee is fired for serving on a jury, the employer can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $250 (up to $5,000 for corporations) and/or a jail sentence not exceeding 90 days.
Penn State University has started a program that looks at human rights cases called “The World on Trial.” The neat twist in the show is that “juries throughout the world” review the case, as presented on the show, then “reach a verdict on whether states are conforming to International treaties.”
In 2010, colleagues and I pitched a more institutionalized version of this idea by suggesting that juries could be implemented in the World Court. The article appeared in a symposium on “global democracy” in an issue of Ethics & International Affairs.
Whether on television or in actual practice, the question remains how well people of different cultures could understand and apply a single set of international laws. If they can’t, it’s either a failure of global civic education, for which there is almost no infrastructure, or a deficiency in the laws themselves, if they fail to speak to the moral sensibilities of diverse cultures.
In any case, the pilot episode of “World on Trial” is on YouTube for you to view.