The Joint Committee on Judiciary heard two presentations during the interim meetings today.
The first presentation was about juror counseling. Some cases require the presentation of graphic images as evidence. These photos can affect jurors and court staff. Judge Farrell said the effects are a type of PTSD. He’s worked as a judge for 12 years and was a prosecutor before that. He’s had jurors and staff tell him they had to see a counselor after what they witnessed in court.
Judge Farrell would like to see a mechanism in the code to provide counseling to jurors and court staff if they need it.
The second presentation was on incentivizing jury service. It was presented that in West Virginia jurors are paid between $15 and $40 a day for service. Legislation proposed in 2022 legislation would have doubled the pay to $80 a day. Jurors are responsible for their own food, parking, and other incidentals for the entire length of the court case. Jurors do receive reimbursement for mileage. Jurors would have to take time off work to serve. Often, jurors do not receive any payment for this time off. Small business owners struggle to serve on juries because it could require them to close their businesses for days. During the presentation, it was asked that the committee consider tax credits for businesses and individuals who serve on juries.
The purpose of incentivizing jury service is to get jurors a reason to want to serve. Adequate compensation increases the faith in the jury.