Commissioner: Stop charging jurors to park

Miami-Dade County generated $106,490 by charging jurors to park at courthouse

MIAMI – A Miami-Dade County commissioner wants to stop charging people serving as jurors to park near the courthouse.

"When I saw your story, I reacted immediately and said to my chief of staff, 'Reserve legislation. We have got to fix this,'" District 8 Commissioner Lynda Bell told Local 10's Jeff Weinsier.

A Local 10 investigation recently revealed Miami-Dade is the only county in the State of Florida charging jurors for a spot. Records show the county generated $106,490 by charging jurors to park in the Civic Center Jury lot from October 2011 to September 2012.

Bell said jurors called to serve shouldn't have pay to park. They currently pay $5 a day. If they leave for lunch and come back, jurors are charged another $5.

Some trials in the courthouse last weeks, even months, and jurors Local 10 talked to were surprised they had to dig into their wallets.

"I was surprised I had to pay, especially because I don't work," said juror Melissa Wolin.

Another juror said she came to court with no money and did not know  what to do.

"We have legislation being written with the attorneys right now," said Bell.

Bell's legislation would make it free for all jurors to park in county owned and operated lots. Jurors would also receive a free Metrorail pass if that's how they plan on getting to the courthouse.

"We are going to push this. We are going to push this hard," said Bell. "How can we do this to the people who are going out of their way to serve, and this is another level of government service -- you are serving the people."

Bell is hoping for a change within three months.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also asked county staff to investigate the issue.