Deliberating for Dollars: How to Score $100 Playing Pretend Court
Some of you might shutter at the thought of jury duty, but I've always found the idea kind of exciting. Perhaps I'm a dork, or it might be that I've just watched too many late-night crime dramas, but I've always thought jury duty would be a fun experience. And while I've yet to be called for actual jury duty, I recently had the chance to participate in a mock jury - a pretend courtroom if you will. And I got paid a $100 for it!
I'll share my experience and then I'll tell you how you can find a gig like this in your own town.
A day in the life of a mock juror...
I didn't know this before I participated, but lawyers often stage fake trials before the real one. It gives them a chance to try out arguments and find out how real jurors might vote. According to those who staged our mock jury, the events often lead to a settlement between both sides, saving the judicial system much needed time and money.
The mock jury I partook in was held in a conference room of one of the big legal buildings in town. The room featured very comfy chairs and a full spread of food in case we got hungry. After filing out some paperwork, the "mock lawyer" explained that we would be presented with an abbreviated version of both the plaintiff's and the defendant's cases. Then as a group we would deliberate and give our verdict. We wouldn't be seeing actual witnesses or hearing cross examination, but simply given a review of the facts in the case.
The case itself was rather interesting, although part of our initial paperwork was a confidentially agreement which bars me from discussing the specifics. I'll just say it was juicy and absent a bowl of popcorn, I felt like I was watching an episode of Law & Order unfold before me.
After the lawyers finished providing their arguments, we were offered lunch and then sent off to deliberate. Much like real jury duty, we were asked to elect a jury foreman and then discuss the case until we came to an agreement. It took us about an hour to agree on a verdict.
Once we submitted our verdict, both of the lawyers spent some time asking us questions. They wanted to know what piece of evidence tipped the scales for us and how credible we found each side of the case. The whole process took about 5 hours and at the end of the day we were each given an envelope with $100 cash for participating. Woohoo!
The $100 payday worked out to $20/hour for my time and it was seriously a very fun and thought provoking afternoon. Certainly one of the easiest ways to make $100.
What do you think? Does mock jury sound like fun to you?
If you are interested in participating in a mock jury, here's how to get started:
I found my particular opportunity on Craigslist.com, under the 'Jobs' section. This is a fairly common place for mock jury consultants to recruit participants, but there is one other way...
One of the larger consultants has a website called SignUpDirect.com which will allow you to fill out an application and be entered into their prospective juror database.
The application process won't take you too long, but they usually ask a few questions about your thoughts on the judicial process, whether you think judges are fair or not, etc. Once you have completed the questionnaire, your information is sent to their clients and when there is an opportunity in your county they will give you a call.
Just a quick warning - If you do get called for mock jury duty, you might feel a strong urge to go back and read every John Grisham novel ever written. Just saying...
Good Luck Penny Hoarders!