Why Are People So Averse To Jury Duty?

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 27 2012 9:11 AM

Why Are People So Averse To Jury Duty?

It is a universally acknowledged fact that a person in receipt of a jury duty summons must be struggle to find a way to wriggle out of it, so I recommend Joel Warner's piece for us on using jury selection science to get yourself nixed. I do have to say, though, that I struggle to understand America's disdain for jury duty. I've been called twice, and both times was happy to go. All things considered, I'd much rather do my regular job day-in and day-out that do jury duty, but I do my regular job every day. I find that taking a day or two or three off every few years to go do something different is pretty fun.

When I did jury duty in New York years ago I read The Brothers Karamazov while waiting around. When else do you get the chance these days to tackle the big honking 19th Century novels? Is everyone else's job really so amazing that they can't bear the thought of a few days off to listen to testimony and pronounce on a verdict? I don't buy it. I feel like as a society we've coordinated on a pointless anti-social norm that you're some kind of sucker if you're willing to just smile and do what the judge wants even though there are no really good self-interested reasons to want out. For salaried professionals, jury duty is a paid vacation. What's not to like?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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