By Sam Cordova
When you read the Thirteenth Amendment, Section 1, to the Constitution of the United States of America, you will clearly see and understand that slavery of the Negro population after the Civil War was prohibited. Involuntary Servitude, protecting all of us, was also prohibited. The amendment reads as follows; “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The latter is violated daily through our federal and state judicial system throughout the 50 states of this country.
Not one single Judge, legislator, Governor or President has even spoken against such exploitation.
What is Involuntary Servitude?
It is being coerced, forced, being in bondage (slavery), without being remunerated or paid for your services and being threatened with severe punishment if you refuse to comply. A juror who serves at the many thousands of trials in our Judicial Court System, be it federal, state or local in the U.S.A. is a victim of this illegal system. This inequitable and illegal system must be brought to a halt. While this illegal system is in every state, I will reference what occurs to jurors in the stat of California State Courts. I have personal experience as a juror in both Civil and Criminal Courts in this state. Beautifully printed and colorful pamphlets are presented to all persons called to service as a juror. They read, in part, “You have been called to serve as a trial juror in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.
Such service is a privilege, a serious responsibility and a mark of good citizenship. We look forward to your participation in the justice system and know that you will find the experience both interesting and rewarding. Etc, etc.” Interesting, maybe, but certainly not rewarding in a monetary sense. What they ingeniously fail to inform you about is (1) you have no choice (2) you will not get paid. In fact, this service will probably set you back a few dollars. We are all paying to serve! In a different publication they inform you that you will be fined $1,500 if you fail to respond to the call for this rewarding, interesting and privileged service as a juror. A federal minimum wage was promulgated by our legislators scores of years ago. California followed suit! In California this wage is $7.25 per hour. This is violated in the case of all jurors. A jury is the most important part of any judicial system. As jurors, we are supposedly independent, but this is an illusion, because the judge does, in fact, curtail this independence at every opportunity.
Yet, in a trial, we are the one element that is at least appreciated, honored and many times disparaged. Every other person in the court room of a jury trial is earning hundreds of dollars per day. The Judge makes $750 to $850 per day plus earning dollars for his or her retirement of over $130,000 per year. Even the lowly Sheriff makes over $175 daily. Now the insult! The juror is allotted $15 per day after the first day, plus .34 cents per mile, one way. Nice, eh! If one doesn’t eat much of a meal those two days, we may be able to make it with $15. Certainly the cost of getting to and from the court house will not be covered by the .34 cents per mile. We are actually paying for what the judges state is the privilege and reward of serving. This is worse than slavery. The Negro slave did not have to pay for such a privilege.
We may have to request an Emancipation Proclamation from the President to free all of us from this Involuntary Servitude as did President Abraham Lincoln to free the Negro slaves. Why have we not spoken up about this inequitable and illegal system? It is because we have been brainwashed by the establishment into truly believing that we are being rewarded with a great privilege. Bah. Humbug! We must all demand payment for our important service. It must be at least the minimum pay, that is paid the janitor at the court house. The violation of our right under the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution must cease. The crime of Involuntary Servitude must not be tolerated any longer.