The question of how to increase jury pay in Illinois without hitting taxpayers’ wallets is back after last week’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling struck down six-person civil juries as unconstitutional.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association supported the now-unconstitutional measure, which included a raise for jurors. Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) President Chris Hurley said the idea was to reduce the number of jurors so they can be paid more.
“By striking the law down, we’re back to square one, which is the counties don’t have to pay jurors much, and they still need to use 12 jurors,” Hurley said.
Hurley said something has to be done to increase juror pay. “Up in Cook County, the largest venue for trials in the state, it’s $17 a day.”
Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director Travis Akin said he understands $17 a day barely pays for parking in Chicago, but said cutting civil juries in half was the wrong approach.
“The idea is to get a diverse and well-put-together group of people to make these decisions, and you can’t really do that with a jury of six.”
Akin said there are other ways to pay jurors more without limiting the size of a jury or strapping county taxpayers with more costs, such as increasing case-filing fees to offset higher juror pay.
“We can do that without raising taxes,” Akin said.
Akin said the struck-down measure was a last-minute giveaway to personal-injury lawyers from former Gov. Pat Quinn.