Is mandatory jury duty unfair and ineffective and should it be abolished?
Jury duty can be a hassle. Idealistically speaking I suppose it is a noble concept. Serving one's country and community is a great thing and I certainly admire most of those who do this. However situations are not always equal for everybody and carrying out a noble cause may not be the easiest thing for some.
Firstly, I will consider the question from my own experience and that of others who may be in my position. For many years I managed a business and often did not have employees who were especially capable of running things at the business if I were gone for long periods. They were good employees for what they were hired to do, but lacking in other areas. I normally did not like to leave for more than a few hours. The financial situation precluded hiring upper echelon staff as regular employees and we did not have many long term employees. My absence from my business because of jury duty created a difficult operational circumstance for my business.
Also, for many years, I needed to be available to take kids to school and pick them up afterwards. If I would have had to perform jury service, I would have had to find other arrangements for my children, which was not always an easy thing for me to do.
So here's my suggested plan: Make jury duty voluntary for anyone who is not working for the government or supported by the government. The mandatory service pool would consist of people who work for the government, people on welfare who are able to serve, all lawyers and employees of legal firms, retired judges, and anyone who is fulfilling an obligation for community service as mandated by the court. Also, the pool could consist of parolees and certain low risk prisoners--now those would be peers for some of those on trial. This group would have be trained and be under strict control. This last group may sound absurd to some, but I think this would be providing them some real insight in their quest for rehabilitation and an opportunity to be integrated into a system against which they have rebelled.
Of course, this argument that I've just posed applies to all of us. Jury duty can be a rewarding experience for all who participate and we should all want to be a part of that. But I just don't think the reluctant juror is a fair component to the procedure and could be a detriment to the person on trial. Judging from some of the bizarre decisions our court system has come up with makes me question the integrity of some of the juries. The jury selection process often seems like an absurd method of procuring a skewed jury, which to me is an argument for a professional jury system. This could be expensive though and probably impractical.