Some folks view jury service as a pain. Some view it as a civic duty. Some folks even want to be jurors, begging to help render justice. Here’s your chance to get paid for your opinion as a juror…
The Alaska Court System uses a special list of prospective jurors: The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend list. When you apply for your PFD, you are also applying for jury duty. So … whether you want to be a juror, or not, you will be called to serve.
Today, we’re focusing on those folks who are proud to serve as jurors. We’re paying respect to those Alaskans who understand that our Alaskan life-style sometimes involves disagreements. Those disagreements need to be resolved for our society to march forward. Sometimes, disagreements need to go to court – unlike the good-old-days where we just started shooting at each other. You know, the price of civilization and all…
Rather than waiting for your invitation to serve as a juror with the State of Alaska Court System, check out the Alaska Jury Project. [Disclosure: My wife, Lori Merdes, started and runs The AJP as a non-profit organization. Lori wants to develop the AJP as part of her doctoral work in Communication at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Furthermore, my law firm partially underwrites the AJP.]
Here’s how the AJP works: The AJP invites six Alaskans to its headquarters. The AJP “jurors” listen to arguments, view evidence and then decide a real lawsuit. There is nothing hypothetical about any of this. Real attorneys, with real lawsuits hire the AJP to do a “mock trial” of their case. It’s sort of like a test-drive for the attorney, before having to face a real jury.
AJP jurors are paid $50/ea. for about three hours of their time. They get a description of the case, hear arguments, are shown evidence, and then are video-taped while they come to a verdict. AJP jurors are invited to be vocal, open and blunt about how they view each case. They are encouraged to speak their minds.
As you may suspect, this is fun. AJP jurors have a blast. And, AJP jurors provide a strong civic benefit by helping attorneys keep frivolous cases out of court. Trust me, attorneys think twice about wasting the Alaska Court System’s time and resources if an AJP jury has panned their case. No attorney wants to get beaten up before real jurors.
At the same time, insurance companies can dramatically change how they value a case, once they have seen how an AJP jury deliberates. The blade cuts both ways – always in a non-profit context and always without wasting public/judicial resources. The goal is to let good cases go to court, and keep frivolous cases out of court.
BOTTOM LINE: Sign up today to be an AJP juror. It’ a simple form at Alaska Jury Project that takes less than five minutes. Then, wait to be contacted. In the near future, you might get a chance to share your thoughts with litigants and attorneys who actually want to hear what you have to say … about a real lawsuit. The AJP is one fantastic idea – and its time has come to Alaska.