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Tag: jury duty

This shockingly un-patented business plan will streamline your errand-running in the future!

Background:

Many recurring obligations in modern society require significant amounts of waiting.

For example:

  • Waiting in line at the DMV
  • Waiting to be interviewed during the jury selection process, for jury duty
  • Getting your car’s oil changed

The issue:

This time is generally not put to productive use (perhaps due to its unpredictable duration). Millions of hours or productive time are wasted every year at these locations.

Proposal: multitask by adding a second activity

The only real requirement is that the second activity needs to be interruptible with a small amount of lead time. So “learn to fold an origami crane” would work, but “practice scuba diving” or “assist a doctor in performing open-heart surgery” would not.

Possibilities:

  • Jury selection PLUS speed dating
  • DMV driver’s license renewal PLUS a dentist appointment
  • Waiting at the airport at your plane’s gate PLUS Red Cross first aid training

There are many more possible locations where a “captive audience” can be found, such as:

  • Waiting for car maintenance to be completed
  • Waiting for a bus / train
  • Stranded on a desert island
  • Stranded on a regular island
  • Waiting in line at a store

Conclusion:

By adding a second (productive) activity to the primarily waiting-related first activity, we can greatly improve citizens’ productivity.

PROS: Reduces wasted time during certain obligatory activities.

CONS: None!

Serve your next jury duty on Netflix or Youtube

Background:

Jury trials can last for an extremely long time, potentially upwards of several months. Every day during the trial, at least 12 jurors will be inconvenienced by showing up to the court.

The issues:

Besides the issue of wasting so much time for so many people, there are several additional factors:

  1. Jurors can become bored, inattentive, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of evidence that is presented at a trial.
  2. Any testimony or evidence has to be presented on-site at the trial during normal business hours (with rare exceptions for video testimony). This is unnecessarily limiting.
  3. Jurors may occasionally be instructed to exclude or ignore evidence that has been presented but (for whatever reason) is inadmissible. However, it is not actually possible for a juror to wipe their memory of the improperly-presented evidence.
  4. Jurors may be influenced more by the charisma and speaking style of witnesses or lawyers, rather than the substance of what they are saying.

jury-balance

Fig 1: The “scales of justice” can also be used to weigh people or sacks of flour.

Proposal:

Instead of having a trial drag out for weeks and weeks, it could be filmed and edited down to the length of a standard miniseries.

Each one-hour “episode” would consist of alternating segments by the prosecution and defense.

The episodes could be released in several ways:

  1. As a streaming “Netflix”-style video to the jurors to watch at home as streaming video at their leisure.
  2. As a streaming video, but requiring the jurors to all watch it at the same time and log into a shared chat room. This could also be accomplished from jurors’ homes.
  3. In a regular conference room or movie theater, where all jurors would be obligated to show up at the same time and the trial video would be presented (and refreshments provided). This would be the most similar to existing jury duty, except that it would be shorter and after work hours.

camera

Fig 2: With a camera in the courtroom, the jury could be removed entirely.

This solves many problems:

  1. Qualified jurors attempting to weasel their way out of jury duty due to the burdensome obligation (greatly minimized)
  2. Jury duty could be scheduled for 8–9 PM for a week, thus preventing it from conflicting with normal work hours.
  3. Inadmissible evidence can be removed in the editing room.
  4. Trials would be cheaper and shorter.
  5. Would bolster the video editing sector of the economy.

Finally, particularly compelling trials could even be released on a “pay-per-view” system, bringing in much-needed funds to the civil infrastructure.

jury-duty-1jury-box-empty

Fig 3: The old jury box (left) and the new jury box (right, note that it is empty) after the proposed modifications. It could be used to grow lettuce or radishes, thereby increasing the “sustainability score” of an eco-friendly courthouse.

PROS: Reduces the annoyance of jury duty, increases the quality of legal representation, and saves money for the court system.

CONS: None!

Never be annoyed by jury duty again—use prisoners as jurors

Background:

Many citizens in countries with jury duty find it to be a somewhat burdensome obligation. Jurors are either unpaid, or paid only a nominal amount (on the order of a couple hours of minimum wage for an 8-hour day).

(Note that the jury system is by no means a requirement for a trial. In most countries, trial outcomes are determined exclusively by professional judges.)

The Issue:

Since trials can commonly last for weeks or months, and there is no provision for a person to be able to do their day job while they are on a jury, it can become very difficult for a juror to go about their life while the trial is in progress.

jury-duty-1

Fig 1: A hypothetical jury, randomly chosen from the local population. These 12 people probably would rather be somewhere else, but they’re doing their civic duty.

Proposal:

It might be possible to select from a group of individuals who are still more-or-less representative of the population as a whole, but whose lives would not be negatively disrupted by a lengthy trial. Specifically, the jury could be selected from the ranks of convicted criminals.

Since these individuals are already serving a prison sentence, they don’t have a job that would be interfered with, and there would be no need to ever “sequester” a jury made up of prisoners, since they are already sequestered by definition.

There is precedent for previous obligations being made optional, at least in the United States:

  • Church attendance (mandatory in the 1600s, now optional)
  • Military service (mandatory if drafted, now optional)

If the jury trial is to be retained, perhaps it too should be made optional for non-incarcerated individuals.

jury-duty-prisoners

Fig 2: A hypothetical jury of only prisoners (in anachronistic garb).

PROS: Saves time and money spent mailing out jury summonses, saves lost wages and productivity of the individuals on the jury. Gives the incarcerated individuals something productive to do that is probably more interesting than being in prison.

CONS: None!