If America was not furious enough with the six female judges who acquitted George Zimmerman (see: protests taking place across America), this should do it. According to USA Today, beginning on June 21 when the jury was sequestered, the women enjoyed 22 girls' nights out, funded by about $33,000 of Florida's taxpayers' dollars. The millions of Americans who are pointing to the Zimmerman trial to reveal the lack of justice in the U.S. legal system certainly won't be thrilled over the news.
USA Today reported that according to the Seminole County sheriff's office, the 3-week vacation consisted of "several evening and weekend excursions," including bowling, shopping at the Volusia Mall, a trip and dinner in St. Augustine, a visit to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, manicures and pedicures, and a fireworks show for the fourth of July.
"Allowing the woman [sic] to get manicures and pedicures or enjoying other activities is important to the mental well-being of these jurors who are in a very stressful situation," she said.
USA Today also quoted Robert Hirschhorn, a jury consultant who said $33,000 was a "small price to pay for the enormity of the task the jurors undertook." He makes the fair point that these jurors were separated from their husbands, their children, their friends, and their jobs, which could take a toll on them. But he goes as far as to say " they were essentially 'imprisoned' for three weeks." Ohhh the irony.
In all fairness, the members of the jury did have their legitimate reasons to be stressed out. They were, after all, responsible for determining the outcome of one of the most high-profile and polarizing court cases in recent history. Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that the jurors put into the Zimmerman trial and putting aside my own opinions about the trial's outcome, the decision to spend more than $30,000 for a "field trip to pass the time and distract them" is irresponsible.
Jury duty, as much of a hassle as it may be, is a compulsive service that every American must pay to reap the benefits of citizenship. And it is undoubtedly a taxing and tolling responsibility to decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty of a crime. But at the same time, jury duty is the basis of the U.S. legal system. Thirty thousand plus tax dollars sounds like a steep price to relieve the Zimmerman jury's stress. In fact, to put it into perspective, it is about the same as a beginning teacher's annual salary. The jurors were entitled to a bit of relaxation to clear their heads from the stress of such a crucial trial, but a manicure and pedicure cost about thirty bucks. This extravagant, if not irresponsible sequester is the icing to the cake and will certainly irk many Americans, particularly the Floridians who funded it with their taxes.