Last Thursday, Governor Brewer signed an important piece of legislation for Arizona’s civil justice system.
Senate Bill 1248 was sponsored by Sen. Adam Driggs, and reauthorizes the 2003 program that allows the Arizona Supreme Court to establish a filing fee to be deposited in the Arizona Lengthy Trial Fund. This fund is used to pay jurors’ expenses in cases that last longer than five days. Where a juror would not receive any wages from his employer or would receive reduced wages from his employer for his time spent on the jury, that juror is eligible for at least $40 and up to $300 per day of the trial in supplemental earnings to be paid from the fund.
When individuals are picked to serve as jurors on a lengthy, complex trial, we want them to be focused on the question of innocence or guilt, not, “Can I afford to be here another day?” By eliminating this concern, more citizens and a more diverse group of citizens are able to serve on juries. This results in juries that are more representative of their respective communities, and arguably better outcomes for all parties.
The American Tort Reform Association considers this law a model for other states, and an example of Arizona’s role as “a leader in jury service improvement and restoring litigants’ rights to fair trials.”
Kudos to Sen. Driggs, the Arizona legislature and the Governor for extending this common sense program to improve the civil justice system in Arizona.