The jury’s out….and home!


I can now come clean and let you all know where I’ve been for the past two weeks…Yep, Jury Service. I’d have been in contempt of court if I’d mentioned anything about my service so it was best to keep schtum until it was all over. I’m so relieved that today I’ve now finished my service and I’m ‘free’ to get back to normal.

I’d originally been summoned in June of last year but was able to defer it due to a pre-booked holiday and my employer wrote a letter to say it was inconvenient timing (mid Summer in schools  is quite possibly the busiest time of year!) and asked for my service to be deferred. They gave me the all clear and would contact me within 12 months to let me know when I would be called up again.

Well the summons arrived late September and I was to appear for service at the end of January in the new year. I was gutted. I’m not so naive that I don’t know horrible things happen in my local area but I’d rather not know the details of them to be honest else I’d be living in fear for the rest of my life. I’m not one to watch CSI or NCIS as I do have an over active imagination, I’d never get any sleep if I watched those kind of programmes. So apprehensively, I got ready to serve my summons and do my public duty.

I arrived for my first day of service at 9am at the Crown Court and had to go through various security checks. I was then allowed access to the Jury Service room. Only jurors were allowed in here and it had its own catering facilities, toilets and even a pool table. We were entitled to a daily smart card with £5.71 allowance on and we could use that for drinks, breakfast, snacks and lunch. A bog standard coffee was £1.50 so it was easier for me to bring my own lunch and use my smart card for my drinks throughout the day. The best bit is that anything you don’t spend per day is credited to your bank account at the end of your service so I might actually get a bit back as I didn’t use much!

It is boring waiting around for a trial but to be honest, once you’ve been selected (at random) and you’ve taken the oath (this is the part I was most scared of!), it is actually quite interesting. The barristers like to try and outwit each other and use mind games to try and get you (the jury) to think what they would like you to think. I didn’t like any of them to be honest. You get to see the evidence (photo’s, witness statements, police interviews the lot) so you’re able to make your mind up based on the evidence provided.

The court staff are very friendly. You get a tour of the courts so you’re aware of what one looks like should you be called up and if you are called up you’re introduced to the judge, the clerk and the usher so it’s not too daunting.

I’m not going to go into much detail about what trials I sat on but all I will say is that justice was served. My first trial was at a Magistrates Court (with old wooden paneling and stained glass windows) and my second was at a new modern Crown Court. We (as a jury) delivered both types of verdict; one guilty and one non-guilty verdict. I’ve got to say that the ‘guilty’ verdict was horrible but there was clear evidence and the defendant was a bit of a troublemaker and didn’t do themselves any favours. The ‘not guilty’ verdict was given to an innocent man who was defending himself against a couple of chavs who alleged that the defendant had beaten one of them up. I never imagined I would get so involved in a case but once we had deliberated we knew he was innocent and was able to deliver the ‘not guilty’ verdict. I was so relieved and actually sobbed once the defendant was allowed to walk free out of court (he also thanked the judge and jury and said he was grateful.) It’s horrible to see a genuinely nice man giving his all to prove his innocence to look after his family. There are some horrible nasty people in this world and unfortunately they don’t a shit about causing other people grief alleging all sorts to cover their own criminal acts!

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to sit on a lengthy trial. We were asked about our availability for a trial that was likely to last 4 weeks and we would only be excused from sitting on a trial if we had a pre-booked holiday or hospital appointment. So if you’re called, you’re called and there’s not much you can do about it. I can thank my lucky stars that the only trials I heard were about alleged robbery, grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm. I’m not sure I could of handled anything worse.

When I rang the juror line this evening (if you’re not on a current trial, you have to ring every evening after 5pm to find out what time you’re needed the next day), I was told my service had now ended and I was no longer required. I’m glad for it to be over. I’ve been part of a jury that has delivered two different verdicts and saw first hand what happens in trials at both Magistrates and Crown courts. I’m happy to have done my duty and hope I’m not called up again, ever! {sig}

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1 Comment

  • Reply Fiona 09/02/2012 at 9:17 am

    Sounds like you’ve had an interesting couple of weeks, i’ve always wondered what it would like to be a juror. I did a law degree so was excluded from being selected for quite a while, not sure if i’m eligible now but would like to experience it one day.

    Glad you didn’t have anything too horrific though, I always think if it was anything involving children it would be such a horrible job.

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