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Judge says no to more pay for jurors hearing case tied to Lakewood police shootings

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on March 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm with 11 Comments »
March 29, 2011 12:49 pm

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frederick Fleming this morning denied a request to increase the amount of compensation paid jurors who hear the case against cop killer Maurice Clemmons’ alleged getaway driver.

Fleming agreed with attorneys for Dorcus Allen that the current $10-per-day rate is too low but said it is up to the state Legislature to change the law.

“It’s not the court’s call,” the judge said.

Mary K. High and Peter Mazzone wanted taxpayers to pay jurors with jobs their existing wages if their employer wouldn’t pay them while they’re on jury duty. High and Mazzone argued those not employed should get the state’s minimum wage of $8.27 per hour while they sit in a trial that is expected to last six weeks or more.

Not fairly compensating jurors for their time, especially during a long trial, causes many working people to miss jury duty due to financial hardship, High argued this morning.

That erodes a defendant’s constitutional right to be tried by a fair cross section of the community, she said.

“There often is a real hardship for working folks,” High said.

She pointed out that about 30 of the 76 people from which lawyers hope to pick a jury raised their hands this morning when asked if a six-week trial would produce a hardship for them.

Deputy prosecutor Stephen Penner said he supports more compensation for jurors but argued setting jury pay is the responsibility of state lawmakers.

Fleming agreed.

“I agree it’s fraught with issues,” the judge said. “But it’s the elected representatives of the people’s call.”

Allen is charged as an accomplice with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder in the Nov. 29, 2009, deaths of Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens.

Prosecutors contend Allen drove Clemmons to and from the vicinity of a Parkland coffee shop where Clemmons gunned down the officers. They also contend Allen knew what Clemmons intended to do.

Allen has pleaded not guilty. He has said in court documents he did not know what Clemmons meant to do that Sunday morning.

Fleming’s decision this morning left him frustrated.

High said her client feels as though there’s a “bottomless pit of money” to prosecute him but not enough to pay jurors more so he can get a fair trial.



Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. nonstopjoe says:

    The state legislature is in session, so dealing with jury pay should be no problem. Continue trial of the instant case ’til the matter of compensation is resolved.

  2. As a registered Pierce county voter for the last 38 yrs I have been summoned only once for jury duty, which I find quite odd. Give me a call, I’d gladly give each of these defendants a “fair” trial for any compensation at all. However, I do believe that my fairness in judging these scumbags would not fare well with any of them. But boy-oh-boy I’d love to have that chance.

  3. skippythedog says:

    Fair compensation should cut down drastically on frivolous lawsuits too.

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Considering that many jurors called up are illegal’s with drivers licenses, they don’t mind working for cheap. What’s the problem?

    You can thanks Kilmer for allowing illegal’s to get drivers lic. SB 4507 is proof he voted NO and killed the bill.

    I was recently called for duty and many there were on welfare already and they were the ones that complained the most. They made me sick with their whining while they were cruising on the government’s dollar. And yes, two jurors were disqualified because they had drivers licenses and did not show proof of citizenship when they got a license so they were disqualified by the judge. I was shocked to find out that illegal’s were showing up for jury duty just to get the pay. Thanks you democrats.

  5. surveyor1 says:

    I have been registered to vote for 24 years and have yet to be called for jury duty (knock on wood). I will say that if I do get called I would have to be disqualified due to financial hardship for a trial expected to last that long. My company will cover two weeks I believe, but there is no way I am going to forego a months salary or more to sit on a jury.

  6. Raindancer10 says:

    This isn’t right and needs to be changed. If everyone involved in a jury selected case were to be paid 10 dollars a day, (I.e.; court clerks,judges,baliffs I bet the whining would be heard then in Olympia. That isn’t enough to cover the gas to and fro at this time for many

  7. DeschutesMan says:

    People sure want money for everything now. What happened to people who did their local duties and served on a jury for a peer? Mary K High is wrong on this and the “NEW” Lawyer attitude is rubbing off on everyone. Money Money Money and forget about civic duty!!!

  8. screwybruce says:

    It should not take over 1 week for ANY trial. If the judges were competent they would toss out half of the crap the lawyers try to spin

  9. “Money Money Money and forget about civic duty!!!”

    I disagree. For the working poor, ten bucks a day is a hardship. I wonder how many folks would like to work for 1959 wages?

  10. 1959 wages , huh? I’ll bet that the fines and or jail time for a no-show or outright refusal to do your “civic duty” are nowhere near 1959 levels. How about this “all per diems for elected and/or appointed officials in Washington State shall equal that of juror pay”. Here’s your 10 bucks Mr. Bureaucrat, enjoy your stay and meals with that. A law such as this, if passed, would suddenley and dramatically get Olympia’s attention, I would think.

  11. tonnibell says:

    So, the working class, once again, raped by the state! If you are on unemployment, disability or just not working they want the rate of pay to be minimum wage for workers??? You are kidding, right? The working people, like myself, get $10 a day!! We miss work, hoping our employer will pay our full time pay for wages lost, gas money, food etc. Sounds like it pays o be unemployed or on DSHS. People on DSHS get paid for jury duty & benefits they are already receiving???

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