A Jersey jury job for the jobless

An empty jury box. (AP file photo)

New Jersey's statewide jury manager Michael Garrahan gets a lot of advice on how New Jersey should fill its juries. Use unemployed people, his advisers say. They have the time. Maybe the $5 a day they earn has some appeal.

I met Garrahan on Thursday at a "Law School for Journalists" workshop sponsored by the New Jersey Court system's department of public affairs. When it was my turn to ask a question, I wondered how the recession had affected jury selection. Was it easier to fill juries when there were so many people who were unemployed?

"It's a trade off," Garrahan answered. On the one hand, unemployed citizens are available, he said.

But, said Assignment Judge Georgia M. Curio from Cumberland County, "they get very anxious" because they worry about missing an interview.

Interestingly, Garrahan said, the recession made it harder to find employed people who were willing to serve. "Even if they were still employed, they were more worried about keeping their jobs," he said.