We now know what was discussed on that sealed telephone conference held Tuesday. It was what to serve the jury for lunch during what will be an incredibly long trial. (858 [PDF; Text]) Only kidding. But Judge Alsup is looking out for those people who will be giving up their work and time for two months.
As we get closer to the beginning of this trial it is worth reflecting on the cost of this dispute, not just on the parties but on those citizens who are asked to decide the verdict in this case.
First, it's going to require an incredibly large jury pool. We know that because Judge Alsup previously told the parties to the dispute to limit their entourages during the jury selection process as the jury pool would require half the seating in the courtroom. From this pool the parties and the Court will select between six and 12 individuals (civil trials do not require a jury of 12).
Second, consider how hard it will be to find enough individuals who have the time to spend eight weeks on this matter without personal hardship. Here is what the federal court system says about serving on a trial (petit) jury:
Federal jurors are paid $40 a day. While the majority of jury trials last less than a week, jurors can receive up to $50 a day after serving 10 days on a trial. (Employees of the federal government are paid their regular salary in lieu of this fee.) Jurors also are reimbursed for reasonable transportation expenses and parking fees. Jurors also receive a subsistence allowance covering their meals and lodging if they are required to stay overnight.
So you can't be fired or harassed by your employer for accepting jury duty, but your employer is under no obligation to continue your pay during your jury service. You can pretty much count on some employees of small businesses or employees who are on an hourly wage are not going to receive their normal compensation. All jurors will receive a daily stipend over $40 a day for the first 10 days of trial and $50 a day for everything over 10 days. They also are eligible to receive reimbursement for transportation, parking, meals, and, if necessary lodging.
Your employer may continue your salary during all or part of your jury service, but federal law does not require an employer to do so. Nonetheless, the Jury Act forbids any employer from firing, intimidating, or coercing any permanent employee because of their federal jury service. You should check whether your company or employer has a policy for employees serving on jury duty.
This last item brings up a third point about the jury pool. Those to be called for jury service may live anywhere within the area covered by the Northern District of California. Have a look at a map depicting that district. The San Francisco office of the Northern District of California extends all the way from San Mateo County, at the south end of the Bay, to Del Norte County on the border of Oregon. If you live in Del Norte County and are selected for the jury pool, you sure aren't going to commute every day for this trial. Even if you live in the Bay Area, being in the courtroom by 7:30 a.m. will be a challenge.
Finally, there is the expertise (or lack thereof) of the persons who are ultimately selected to serve on the jury. It's not likely that the parties are going to find folks like the Groklaw readership who have knowledge of technology and some familiarity with patent and copyright law. In fact, don't be surprised to see one of the parties (not saying who) wanting to keep all technical expertise off this jury.
Don't be surprised if jury selection alone takes up the first several days on this trial calendar.
04/05/2012 - 858 - ORDER
TO JURY COMMISSIONER to furnish refreshments for the jury. Signed by
Judge William Alsup on 4/5/12. (dt, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/5/2012)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
ORACLE AMERICA, INC.,
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
No. C 10-03561 WHA
ORDER TO JURY COMMISSIONER
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the United Sates District Court Jury Commissioner shall
furnish daily refreshments for the members of the jury in the above-entitled matter and during the
deliberation lunch shall be furnished for the members of the jury at the expense of the United States
District Court Jury Commissioner.
Dated: April 5, 2012
/s/ Williams Alsup
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE