Letter to the Editor: Is $6 a day fair for court witness fee 

~ Submitted by Robert Kalantari

As a good citizen, I had provided my dashcam recording to Sandwich police department for a reckless driving incident which ended up colliding with other cars before the drunk driver ended up in the ditch.  Needless to say, I became a witness on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for this criminal court case.

Attending the court in Barnstable twice was an all-day affair as I had to drive approximately 100 miles each way to the court and spend all day at the court, which required me to take two full days off from my work, unpaid, except $6 a day for witness fee, yes that is $6 a day.

Mass GL Part III, Title VI, Chapter 262, section 29, witness fees states in part the following:

…..the fees for attending as a witness before general court ,…….shall be $6 a day, and 10 cents a mile for travel out and home.

How can our state justify paying $6 a day to its citizens for being out of work all day, or pay only 10 cents for mileage reimbursement?  While in my case, I can afford to be out of work for two days and I could care less if I get paid the reasonable mileage fee, which is currently set by the Federal government at 58.5 cents per mile, but how about those who rely on every dollar of their income, and they rely on getting paid every day?

While our state has many laws to protect its citizens against unfair labor, and unfair pay, how can they justify mandating its citizens to show up as a witness and pay them $6 a day?  After all, most citizens must take time off, unpaid, and sometimes more than one day to serve as a witness.  I am just curious when was the last time this law was updated and what was the basis for the $6 a day witness fee and 10 cents per mile?

I have communicated this issue to our State Senator Michael Barrett and our State Representative Kenneth Gorden.  I thank both for getting back to me, and while I realize that they have many other important issues to deal with, I would hope that they will find the time to look into this issue and correct this unfair, outdated law that we still have in our Commonwealth.

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