Jury duty leaves woman stranded

November 1, 2013 • Local News

A Chaves County resident is stranded in Roswell because she ran out of gas after she drove into the city for jury duty.

She said that when she called to explain that she could not come in for jury selection because she had no money and no gas, she was told a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

Guadalupe Becerra lives on Shoshoni Road, some 30 miles from town. She, like many, is struggling to make ends meet.

She just started a new job. Her husband and [auth] children work. Her husband brings home $560 every two weeks, especially now that they have to have insurance.

Not only will she miss work today, but her children also will not be able to work. This represents a loss of income for herself and her family that will not be replaced by the stipend she’ll eventually receive for her jury duty and her miles.

The courts pay 19 cent per mile and $6.25 per day for jury duty.

“I drive a Durango. I get about 12 miles to the gallon and it takes $60 to fill the tank,” Becerra said.

She said that she just served last week and received about $19 for reimbursement.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen and they treat you like this. I could write a check, but I have 26 cents in the bank. It would be a hot check and that would turn me into a criminal,” Becerra said.

She’s tried to find a local charity to help her get home, but none exist for such contingencies.

Becerra questions a system that does not make allowance for financial hardships.

She recognizes that the law about exemptions comes from the state rather than local level and plans to e-mail Gov. Susana Martinez from the Roswell Library, where she is staying while she tries to find a means to get home.

“What am I going to do? It’s embarrassing to tell everybody that you don’t have enough money to buy gas,” Becerra said.

After driving to Roswell for jury duty, she was not selected to serve.

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