Could one little financial hiccup for you to file bankruptcy? Have you ever been summoned for jury duty?  The dreaded letter arrives in the mail and you think: I could wind up filing bankruptcy if I have to sit jury duty. My employer won’t pay me if I have to serve.

I have been summoned twice. The first time was in late 2008. I asked for the one-time deferment because of a work conflict. I was summoned again just a few months ago. But I was lucky…the hotline the night before told me I was excused because all cases were settled. So technically I have served, and hopefully I am out of the juror selection pool for a few more years.

Perhaps the most famous criminal case in Florida history started jury selection today – the Casey Anthony trial. While I don’t want to dwell on the awful events of the case, I want to show the extreme hardships some jurors could face.

It is expected that the trial will last at least two months. The media frenzy regarding the case has resulted in the jury pool being selected in Pinellas County (Clearwater area), but the trial will be held in Orlando. So the jurors selected will have an even harder time than usual.

The Orlando Sentinel reported today:

Some of the other notable comments from the prospective jurors today:

• A man, who is single, said his employer would not pay him for the time lost. Perry asked what would be the impact if he was not paid. “I’d probably be in bankruptcy by the end of 12 weeks,” the man said. Defense attorney Cheney Mason was opposed to striking him for hardship reasons. Perry said he is not excused for financial hardship at this time.

• A single woman said she won’t be paid while serving on the jury and won’t be able to meet her financial obligations. She would lose her car and would be evicted without the income, she said. Perry excused her for financial hardship, and said losing worldly goods to serve as a juror is not something the courts ask people to do.

Seems like the same exact situation to me. Yet one juror was excused and the other was not. Maybe the first person should have said 8 weeks instead of 12.

Do you know how much jurors get paid?

Orange County pays the following: $15 for the first three days of service (if you are unemployed, or your employer does not pay you during your jury duty); then $30 for the fourth day and beyond.

So if the trial lasts two months, and all workweek days are used during those two months, it would be about 44 jury days.

Your pay would be roughly $1275 for two months, or about $160 a week.

I would bet that for most people this would be a huge financial burden. I see people on a daily basis barely getting by from paycheck to paycheck.

Losing income for two months straight could result in a dire state of affairs.

Foreclosure for being two months behind on payments?

Car repossession for missing payments?

Bankruptcy after getting behind on your credit card or medical bills?

Possibly all three?

Could jury duty, considered a civic duty, push you into a financial disaster? It is something most people never dream could happen to them. But what would happen to your financial well-being  if you served on the jury in a high-profile trial?