Life as I know it… plus commentary

Involuntary Servitude

with 5 comments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person’s will to benefit another, under some form of coercion. While laboring to benefit another occurs in the condition of slavery, involuntary servitude does not connote the complete lack of freedom experienced in chattel slavery; involuntary servitude may also refer to other forms of unfree labor.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes involuntary servitude illegal under any US jurisdiction whether at the hands of the US government or in the private sphere, except as punishment for a crime: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

There you have the classic definition of involuntary servitude…. or as it pertains to this week’s dilemma: jury duty.  Essentially the government is making me show up at eight a.m. at the courthouse in downtown LA.  No asking me if I want to.  No asking me if I can clear my schedule.  Not even any asking me if the company will pay me for time lost.  The official line is that while they will not reimburse you for lost wages (or in my case, billing for time)… they do offer jury duty pay, which barely amounts to gas and lunch.  This is really outrageous when you consider that I may end up on a three day court case.  While some crimes will only land you a night in jail, I am potentially sentenced to a court case that will probably last three days.  Luckily, the automated phone system says I’m off the hook for Monday.  (Update… no need to show up Tuesday.  Three days to go.)

Sure, some of you will say it’s my civic duty.  Well screw that.  Civic duty won’t buy me an iced grande soy chai.

I tell you what.  Instead of paying all kinds of money to administer an involuntary servitude based juror system, they should offer a better day salary for people who volunteer.  It would be a great way for retired people and students and the temporarily unemployed to make some pocket money.  And those that rejoice in taking part in the system, well.. they’d get their day in court.

Me… I just want to pursue life, liberty and happiness without being involuntarily restrained.


Written by arnold

March 6, 2006 at 1:51 am

Posted in Culture

5 Responses

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  1. So let me get this straight: You are equating jury duty–for which you’ve had to do nothing yet except make two phone calls–with slavery because they didn’t ask you if you wanted to. That’s genius. If this works I’m going to use it as precedence for all kinds of things I don’t want to do.

    No one asked me if I wanted to drive the speed limit, but they make me do it against my will. That’s kind of slavery isn’t it?

    Better yet, I would never choose to go to the DMV, but I’m forced to. Many times I spend the better part of a day there…without compensation! In fact, I have to pay money to stand around in that government-run zoo. Does that qualify?

    What about really bad commercials that are on during Gonzaga basketball games? No one asked me if I wanted to watch them without being financially compensated for lost time and brain cells. And it’s unquestionably my right to watch the Zags without fear of low-budget real estate commercials, right?

    Can you help me with these things too? I feel like my civil liberties are being stripped from me.

    The Kyle

    March 7, 2006 at 10:53 am

  2. In a word, yes.

    Jury Duty = Slavery because I am imprisoned against my will. Sure there’s a subtely difference. Being held in a room being forced to do work for free is not the same as standing in line.

    BTW.. there’s a thing called the internet that you can do DMV stuff over the net.


    March 7, 2006 at 12:19 pm

  3. so i had to go to jury duty once…it ended up being for two weeks…good luck if you get on a “three day” case…have a splendid day!


    March 7, 2006 at 2:50 pm

  4. The “inter-” what now?

    And “imprisoned against my will” is very entertaining. Guess I’m a sucker for overdramatization.

    The Kyle

    March 7, 2006 at 6:21 pm

  5. I had jury duty this last Monday. Had to be at the courthouse at 8am. It took about 30 minutes to stand in line and check in with the clerk. At about 9 they posted which “group” we were in. I was in group D.

    Fifteen minutes after that, during which I read about Walker Percy and Thomas Merton, they made an announcement. “All those in Group D are dismissed. We have been told by the court clerk the case has been settled.”

    It took ten more minutes to get my “Get out of Jury Duty for another year” slip stamped.

    All in all, a very nice morning, full of civic duty and responsibility.

    I was home by ten.


    March 12, 2006 at 4:18 pm

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