Juries are no longer potentially staffed by 12 angry men in Illinois; we are comfortable with six slightly miffed people.
As former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn hit the door last year, he signed a bill boosting jury pay from $10 to $25 a day and cut the jury size for civil cases from 12 to six. The law takes effect today, and it sure looks like a parting gift to the plaintiff bar that has so lovingly cared for Illinois Democrats.
We can’t imagine that boosting the jury wage from $1.25 an hour to $3.13 an hour will make life easier for anyone facing a financial hardship from jury duty. No, we’re thinking John Pastuovic of the Illinois Civil Justice League hit this nail on the head (and did not miss, hitting his thumb and thus suing the hammer maker for failing to put a thumb warning label on the hammer).
“This legislation wasn’t really about jurors’ pay; the pay issue was really a ruse.... What this legislation was really about was decreasing the size of juries,” he said.
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Let’s judge the logic of our two advocates.
John Cooney, past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, argues that you need enough people to get a cross-section of the community. Then he says six is sufficient.
Less is more? Is it easier to sway six people, or 12? Didn’t he see the 12th man, Henry Fonda, in action in that jury room?
Then he argues that if the pay is a way to get more blue collar workers to serve, that that isn’t an advantage because the plaintiff could be a billionaire.
If that’s the case, we guess all our billionaires will be venue shopping in Madison County any day now. We guess all those years of jackpot justice that led to Madison County’s reputation as a “judicial hellhole” are now in the past.
We guess we owe thanks to those fine lawyers at Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.