Commissioner works to end parking fees for jurors
Updated On: Mar 20 2013 11:00:00 PM EDT
A Miami-Dade County commissioner has proposed legislation to provide jurors with free parking.
District 8 Commissioner Lynda Bell's move comes after a Local 10 investigation revealed Miami-Dade is the only county in the state to charge jurors to park.
If passed, free parking would be provided to jurors beginning in October.
According to the Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts website, 300,000 Miami-Dade jurors are called to serve each year.
County records show the county collects $170,000 each year from charging jurors to park.
"Thank you, Channel 10 and Jeff Weinsier, for brining this to our attention," said Bell. "The minute I found out about it, I went right to my chief of staff and said, 'We have to fix this,'"
Jurors said it's an unfair financial burden to charge them to park while fulfilling their civic duty.
"They called us here. We didn't come here on our own. We shouldn't have to pay," said one juror.
It costs jurors $5 per day to park in the lots the county owns and operates. If a juror leaves for any reason -- including lunch -- and returns to the parking lot, they must pay another $5 parking fee.
Some trials at the Metro Justice Building in downtown last months. Jurors in the Rilya Wilson case spent seven weeks just listening to testimony. That amounts in $200 in parking fees.
"We need to make it as easy as possible for those who serve," said Bell. "We need to serve them back and say thank you."
Bell's proposal would also provide for free parking at Metrorail stations for those who prefer to take public transportation to court.
The resolution for free juror parking will go before the full Miami-Dade County Commission for a first reading within the next few weeks.
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