New Jury Duty Law Could Cost McHenry County Taxpayers BIG TIME!

JurorsToday in the Northwest Herald Kevin Craver reported on Senate Bill 59 which is a debacle for for you and I.  In the Law and Justice Committee meeting this was on the agenda to discuss the possible implications.  Our county administration is very concerned about the ramifications to county’s budget… as am I.  This is an unfunded mandate from Springfield that, if not fixed, will add to your tax bill.

This is a perfect example of “The Law of Good Intentions”.  The law is doing more damage than good.

I am against this.  I wish we could afford to pay more to our jurors.  It is a civic duty that is overlooked regularly.  However, our circuit court budget is not designed to a take a $225k budget hit.  The people who will take that hit are the Taxpayers of McHenry County.

All of us are working so hard to get ahead.  We have single parents and dual income families who are struggling to get by.  Every week it seems as though another taxing body inside the county has it’s hand out asking for more.  The taxpayers need to slap the hand of government and say you have enough of our money.

One thing you all can do is simply drop a note to your state representative and state senator and asking them about this.  While I am sure they are on our side on this it never hurts to give them a gentle reminder.  For those of you outside of McHenry County, this does effect you too.  Specifically “the collar counties” take it on the chin.

  • John Q Public

    Hey Andy,

    Am I missing something? It looks to me that the county can simply opt-out of the new rule and we will go back to the current mode of pay.

    “Mulroe’s bill, if passed in its present form, would allow counties to opt out of the new fee schedule, but sets minimum rates. For counties the size of McHenry, a class that includes every county except for Cook with more than 25,000 residents, the bill would set the rates back to what McHenry County now pays its jurors.” (From Kevin Craver’s article you linked to)

    • Hi John,

      I asked this very specific question. When asking about classes I was not given an answer of what class we fall in or how much we would ultimately pay. It was the opinion of staff who were briefing the subject that there will be an increase of some amount that we have not budgeted for.

      It is my opinion (and I do not want to put words in staff’s mouth), that they briefed the worse case scenario. They specifically talked about working with local legislators to fix this problem.

      I can tell you there are very differing opinions on this topic with the members of the committee.

  • PjSMith

    Andrew – The system (and current rates) actually penalize lower middle and lower class citizens who seek to perform their civic duty. No employer in Illinois is required to compensate an employee for the time off taken to serve on a Jury. In my years representing small businesses, I’d say 4 out of 5 businesses that have primarily salaried employees did provide pay for that day off. But 4 out of 5 companies that had primarily hourly employees did not. When an hourly employee is called for jury duty, they nearly always miss pay for that day. Or days. If you make minimum wage – even if you make twice minimum wage, the loss of one day’s pay can be a big deal, particularly if you are living paycheck to paycheck. And heaven forbid you get selected by a jury and you serve for 3 or 4 days (or longer). The $22 the court pays you doesn’t help in that case. Now, for sure the court can release you from the jury pool if you state that serving would be an economic hardship. But many people claim that automatically and this release isn’t always granted. It’s a tough situation, and maybe this law isn’t a perfect (or even good) fix, but in the absence of anything else it’s the top contender by default.