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Jury Service - I'm Terrified

(15 Posts)
gscrym Mon 20-Jun-05 16:27:06

I used to really want to do this but no I have to. I go tomorrow for the selection and I'm dreading it. Can anyone give me a bit of advice on it. I don't want to get into trouble when I'm there. I'm dreading doing something by accident and getting held in contempt.
Also a smartarse at my work said that I might be lucky and get an easy case but that I might get some local gangster who'll remember my face. I know this is stupid and it's only the sheriff court but it has worried me a little. My mum used to go to court as a witness all the time and she's tried to make me feel better about it, not to worry but I can't help it. It's a hige responsibility.

sweetmonkey Mon 20-Jun-05 16:30:51

I really enjoyed it when i did it, gave me a break from work LOL and was actually very interesting. dont worry about doing anything wrong or people remembering you. i think the bloke was trying to wind you up.
i also endd up getting more money that month coz you dont pay tax on what you get for jury service IIRC

Prettybird Mon 20-Jun-05 16:54:18

Are you going to the Sheriff Court or the High Court?

I've done jury duty twice at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

It really is quite relaxed - the Clerk of Court will talk you through what happens and keep you right. There will be about 30-40 of you, he will do a roll call of who has truned up (many people don't! ) and will give a rough description of the case about to be heard. He will also give the names of the defendents, so that you can excuse yourself if you know them. He'll then draw 15 names from a bowl and you go forward in to the Jury Box (15 in Scotland, not 12).

The Sheriff then swears you in - you can choose not to swear to God - but be aware, if you choose to "affirm" as opposed to swear to God, then you have to take the oath individually (The "God" Swearers" get to do it en masse) (Guess who got caught out? )

The listening to the case really is very straightforward - but be ready for lots of waiting about - both if you are called on to a Jury (legal arguments etc, where you get sent back in to thr Jury Room) and also while waiting for a case to be called. Previous ones can over-run, there may be further legal disucssions before they even call a Jury.

Half the time, the case gets plead out before you even get to make a decision.

Don't worry - if you are called, just listen to the facts as presented, take notes (it's amazing how many people don't) and be prepared to be surprised: often a case may appear to be obvious and then as it unfolds, you realise that while the defendent may well be guilty of something, it either isn't what (s)he is up for, or the evidence that is being presented, despite initial appearances, doesn't actually stack up "beyond reasonable doubt".

For me, it was a real eye opener about how the "other" half lives. But then, I've lived a very sheltered life!

Prettybird Tue 21-Jun-05 18:07:17

How did it go gscrym?

QueenOfQuotes Tue 21-Jun-05 18:08:37

Am I right in guessing that you're in the US gscrym?

They don't do 'selection' in the UK do they - thought you were just 'called up'

fishfinger Tue 21-Jun-05 18:09:43

a god tip is to divide a page into two and put he presecution facts ont he left hand side and hten any contradictory defence assertions nt he right

Prettybird Tue 21-Jun-05 19:09:27

gscrym is in Scotland, not the US. The selection occurs after you have been called up - ie about 30-40 of you turn up (or should turn up) and then 15 are selected for that particular case. The rest of the potential jurors then have to ring in on a regualr basis to see if they need to go back to court (ie has that case finished yet and another one about to start - for which a new selection will be made).

It used to be that you had to go in every day (or even every half day) but at least they now have a freephone number. There is still loads of hanging around. You might even get to the end of the week and never actually have sat on a Jury - but at least you are then discharged and are "off the books" for the next five years. But if you are unlucky, a new trial could start on the Friday, for which you are slected - and then that would take you into an additional week .

That's my experience of a Sheriff Court (the equivalent of a Migistrate's Court I think). For High Court cases, ie the more resious ones, I'd imagine you'd be more at risk of longer running cases.

hunkermunker Tue 21-Jun-05 19:21:52

PLEASE don't worry about it - if you can, try to enjoy the legal process.

I did jury service on a murder trial at the Old Bailey several years ago - I was foreman and delivered the guilty verdicts. It was a horrible case, with some harrowing evidence and unpleasant artefacts (the murder weapon, for instance, and some CCTV footage of the woman who was murdered as well as the man who did it before it happened as well as afterwards with him attempting to take his own life).

I actually enjoyed doing jury service, even though the case was so unpleasant. I enjoyed seeing the legal process work and was heartened to see how seriously it was taken by everybody.

Ah, just seen the date on your post - hope it went well! You're extremely unlikely to do anything stupid and be held in contempt - if you sit there and listen to the evidence, take notes and sift the evidence while you're deliberating, that's about it. The judge in the case I was on the jury for was really very kind to us and to the witnesses (wouldn't have liked to be the defendant though!).

QueenEagle Tue 21-Jun-05 19:33:07

How do people get chosen for Jury service? Is it just at random from the Electoral Roll?

hunkermunker Tue 21-Jun-05 19:34:12

Yes. If you've done jury service in the last two years, you can decline and if you've done a particularly harrowing case, you can get a lifetime immunity from it.

fishfinger Tue 21-Jun-05 19:39:49

Hunky thought of becoming a jp?

Prettybird Tue 21-Jun-05 19:43:16

In Scotland you are exempt for 5 years. And it is just random.

I was called again (the pre-call, when they check your rough avialbility) about 4.5 years from the first time, so I wrote back saying I wasn't elgible to be called and by the way I was having a baby in September. Never heard from them again that year! .

The following January, go another pre-call, so wrote back givng them the dates I would be on holiday and also mentioned that I was still breast feeding (which I was) and that I would need facilities to express and somewhere to store the milk ! Never heard from them that yeae either !

Finally caught up with me this year!

hunkermunker Tue 21-Jun-05 20:03:17

FF (are you trying to outdo me with namechanges? ), yes, had considered it and think I'd really enjoy it, but have too much on my plate atm. Want to do SO many things! Wish I could split in about seven pieces and then six of them could go and do all those interesting things and the last bit could sleep and MN

helsi Tue 21-Jun-05 20:26:42

I did it when I was 18 and it was nerve racking however, when I got into it I enjoyed it. They will certainly not remember your face. there are 12 people they would need to remember so why would they single out you and not the opposition solicitor or the judge passing sentence?

You'll be fine.

fishfinger Wed 22-Jun-05 22:05:37

thye never recognise me and we are in a small town

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