In July, I was called for jury duty in NYC, for state court. I was dismissed without being questioned.
I work as a contract/consultant. I get paid based on hours billed. If I served on a jury, I would not get paid for the missed work. This gave me a financial incentive to avoid jury duty.
I decided that I was going to try to get out of serving. If necessary, I'd tell the judge that I understand jury nullification. (My mother was concerned that the judge would have me jailed for "contempt of court", if I told him that I knew about jury nullification during voir dire.)
It's a moot point, because I was dismissed without being questioned. Was I planning to do something immoral? Do I have a moral obligation, if it's a "victimless crime", to try to get picked for the jury and nullify? I would want other people to do that, if I were falsely accused of a crime.
Most jurors don't understand jury nullification. I understand jury nullification. I could hand out jury nullification pamphlets in front of a courthouse, but that's a waste of my time and may lead to getting arrested.
If I want to exercise my jury nullification right, I have to wait until I get called for jury duty, hope it's a nullification-relevant trial, and hope I get picked for the jury. Even then, I'd be sacrificing my salary while serving on the jury. Even though I understand jury nullification, the odds are practically zero that I'll get a chance to use it on an actual jury.
If a State employee serves for jury duty, then he gets full salary and benefits while serving. If you're employed in the productive sector of the economy, you usually don't get paid for jury duty. State employees have a financial incentive to serve on a jury. Private sector employees have a financial incentive to avoid serving. This leads to a pro-State bias in jury pools.
In a criminal trial, the prosecutor and judge both work for the State. State employees have an incentive to serve on a jury, leading to a pro-State bias in the jury.
What I should have done was look at the defendant first, while being questioned. If it was a "victimless crime", and the defendant seemed like a decent guy, then I should have tried to get picked and nullified.
There are two conflicting viewpoints.
- I should avoid serving on jury duty, because I don't want to lose my paycheck. I should avoid serving on jury duty, because government is evil and I want to have as little to do with it as possible.
- I should serve, because I can nullify and keep an innocent person out of jail.
It's interesting to study the economics of jury nullification. I'm giving up approximately $5k while serving. However, the State pays a lot of money to conduct a jury trial farce. It may cost the State $500k-$1M+ to conduct a jury trial farce. If I nullify and hang, I'm costing myself $5k but I'm costing the State $500k-$1M or more. That's attractive odds. Plus, there are limited judicial resources. If the prosecutor re-tries after a hung jury, that means he has to let someone else go. (Some lawyers and public defenders talk defendants into waiving their "speedy trial" rights.)
I should encourage people to refuse to plea bargain. If I serve on a jury and nullify, I'm rewarding someone who refused to plea bargain.
The State doesn't have enough resources to conduct a jury trial farce for everyone. If I hang a jury, the prosecutor won't have the resources to conduct other trials.
Jury nullification has good financial odds. I'm inconveniencing myself a little, while costing the State a lot of money.
There's a contradiction in State justice. State employees lose nothing when serving on a jury. Productive workers give up their salary, while serving on a jury. Productive workers have a financial incentive to avoid jury duty, but they are more likely to question the State.
Should I avoid serving jury duty, to avoid the personal inconvenience and financial loss? Should I serve, nullify, and keep an innocent person out of jail? I'd want others to nullify for me, but my personal incentive is to avoid jury duty. Why should I give up 2-4 weeks of salary to keep an innocent stranger out of jail?
It's a tough choice. Don't blame me. Blame the corrupt system that imposes tough choices on people who seek freedom.