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An Upside to Jury Duty: Helping These Non-Profits

The Alachua County Clerk of Court has been working for more than six months to implement a juror donation program.

The non-profit Peaceful Paths, a center to help survivors of domestic violence, is one of the organizations that will receive the donations.

Theresa Beachy has worked at Peaceful Paths in Gainesville for almost two decades. She's spent her time helping victims of domestic abuse.

"We're always excited to be able to increase services or increase the scope of what we're able to do for survivors," Beachy said.

Most funds for the organization come from grants and fundraising. With Clerk of Court Jess Irby's help, that's changing slightly.

The office started a "juror donation program" that will give jurors the option of donating the money they earn for sitting on a jury to either peaceful paths or the region's Guardian ad Litem Foundation.

"We were very excited to hear about Mr. Irby's juror donation program and extremely excited to be one of his selections," Lisa Siedzic, chair-elect of the foundation, said.

In 2017, Alachua County jurors earned nearly $50,000 for their time.

"Both of the programs kind of hit home to me," Irby said. "As a former state prosecutor, one of my responsibilities was prosecuting domestic violence cases, and so I got to see the difficulty and complexities so I gained a great appreciation for the work that Peaceful Paths does."

Jurors not compensated by an employer receive $15 a day for the first three days of service, and all jurors receive $30 for each day of service after the third day of jury duty. When summoned to jury duty, people fill out a questionnaire, allowing you to donate your funds.

"If we get even half of what they're predicting that would go between the two agencies — ourselves and Guardian ad Litem," Beachy said, "we're looking at a quarter of our entire utilities and communications bill for the year. We're looking at potentially a part-time position."

Beachy is optimistic this could mean more than $10,000 for each organization per year.