The Human of a Recession

The NYT reports that the recession is taking a big toll on those called for jury duty.

Few people like jury duty. But for many people squeezed by the recession, a jury summons holds a new fear: financial ruin.

Judges and court officials around the country say they are seeing the impact of the recession in their courtrooms. While no one keeps overall statistics on juror excuses, those closest to the process say that in many parts of the country an increasing number of jurors are trying to get out of service, forcing courts to call an ever larger pool of jurors to meet their needs.

Ranae Johnson, the jury commissioner for Bonneville County, Idaho, said that she typically summoned 400 people for each two-week term of service, but that lately she “had to pop it up to 500” because of rising numbers of economic hardship claims. “We’re hearing it more than we used to,” Ms. Johnson said. “A lot more.”

She read from her notes of recent calls. “I was laid off, have no car, no job and no friends that can even bring me there,” one caller had argued. Another said, “I cannot even afford the gas to have to come down there.”

Jane Hybarger, the jury administrator for the United States District Court in Las Vegas, said the pleas she was hearing were more urgent, even desperate.

“Now I’m hearing people who are living day to day, who are months behind in their mortgage,” Ms. Hybarger said. “There’s tears in their voice — they don’t know how they’re going to put food on the table.”

This is the unseen face of the recession. The idea that we are in some sort of recovery is laughable to many who are just getting by or worse slowly sinking. The statistics are masking the pain as many turn to whatever will pay a few dollars just in hopes of staving off the impending crisis.

The reality is that the wolf is slowly breaking down the door and hundreds of thousands if not millions are succumbing. Working several jobs, surviving on the basics, the backbone of the country is slowly collapsing. These aren’t the marginally employable, rather educated professionals who because of age or dint of occupation find themselves outside looking in and increasingly most likely to stay in that position for the remainder of their lives.

This country will return to some sort of normal, probably more like it was before than is good for us. Sadly, there is going to be a sizeable minority that have become permanently disenfranchised. These are not of the type that will attract federal dollars to put their lives back on track, in fact their lives have gone permanently off the track. The world will keep on spinning and many will prosper but this recession is going to leave some wrecked lives forever.

About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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