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Thread: Jury service - anyone done it?

  1. #1

    Jury service - anyone done it?

    A friend of mine has received a letter saying they need to do jury service. I was selected years ago but was working at the time for an organisation which had a conflict of interest, so I managed to get out of doing it.

    Am I right in thinking it's a lot harder to get out of it nowdays? My friend wouldn't mind doing it for a couple of weeks but is dreading it lasting months, which could happen.

    Has anyone here actually done jury service and what were your experiences?
    Last edited by Shane; 29th November 2013 at 11:59.

  2. #2
    Master MerlinShepherd's Avatar
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    I have been called twice and both times I declined for medical reasons saying that as I have type 1 diabetes, if my blood sugar drops then I may not be capable of clear thought. This was accepted.

  3. #3
    Normally it only lasts a week or two. I did it a few years back, it's all down to luck someone I did it with spent the week sat around without getting a case whilst I did 3 in the same time. It's quite hard to get out of I tried the first time I it was accepted then got another call about 6 months later.

    It was not so bad bit of an inconvenience for 2 weeks but depends of what case you get

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by NikGixer750 View Post
    Normally it only lasts a week or two. I did it a few years back, it's all down to luck someone I did it with spent the week sat around without getting a case whilst I did 3 in the same time. It's quite hard to get out of I tried the first time I it was accepted then got another call about 6 months later.

    It was not so bad bit of an inconvenience for 2 weeks but depends of what case you get
    This has been generally my experience too. I sat on a couple of cases and was amazed at how stroppy defendants were while in the dock and how lightly some, but not all, fellow jurors took the responsibility.

  5. #5
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    i did 2 weeks jury service last year - I waited 2hrs on the first day before being selected for my first case, which lasted 'til the Friday. Then waited 1hr on the following Monday before selection for the 2nd case, which over-ran to the following Tuesday.

    All pretty painless & well organised although there are the inevitable delays here and there. You do hear stories of some people not being called at all which is just luck of the draw. There was the risk of being selected for a longer trial, but if you have a valid reason not to serve on these, they are pretty reasonable.

    Overall I found it very interesting and wouldn't go out of my way to avoid it in the future.

    I think an employer's level of support (financial or otherwise) is a big factor in how enthusiastic people are to do their duty.

  6. #6
    Master zelig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pluseditor View Post
    This has been generally my experience too. I sat on a couple of cases and was amazed at how stroppy defendants were while in the dock and how lightly some, but not all, fellow jurors took the responsibility.
    Indeed - I did it in the late 80's in Manchester. I was fortunate(?) enough to be called for several cases - others spent 2 weeks playing board games.
    I found it very interesting, but inconvenient - as if you are discharged before lunch, you are supposed to return to work for the remainder of the day.
    Which isn't always convenient.

    In one serious, rape case we had a chavtastic girl in our group who concluded that the defendant "was Scottish & his eyes were too close together"
    ...therefore he was guilty.

    Other members of jury were equally appalled.
    There should be an intelligence test for potential jurors.

    z

  7. #7
    Master Vanguard's Avatar
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    If you want to get out of it just write to them saying " Thank you very much for selecting me for jury service and I just wanted to let you know you can rely on me to find the bastards guilty"

    Job done

  8. #8
    What happens if you work as a contractor - can you reclaim your lost daily rate?

  9. #9
    Master gunner's Avatar
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    I did it last year and it was fine. Couple of days waiting for my first case and then got two which took me through to the following Friday.

    I even got a case about selling fake watches...

    My tips would be:

    1. Make sure you get paid out for your time and mileage.
    2. Take your own food and pocket the allowance at the end of your stint.
    3. Take a laptop and a book.
    4. Enjoy seeing a complete cross section of society...

  10. #10
    Master Cirrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane View Post
    I friend of mine has received a letter saying they need to do jury service. I was selected years ago but was working at the time for an organisation which had a conflict of interest, so I managed to get out of doing it.

    Am I right in thinking it's a lot harder to get out of it nowdays? My friend wouldn't mind doing it for a couple of weeks but is dreading it lasting months, which could happen.

    Has anyone here actually done jury service and what were your experiences?
    One of my minions got called a few months back and he asked if he could put it off because we were so busy - and they let him without any particular problem. He is going in a few weeks - not sure what happens if the case drags on over christmas / new year!

    I have never been called - and it annoys me slightly that I haven't; I almost directly in-between 3 busy crown courts, have always been on the electoral register etc... just seems statistically unlikely I wouldn't have been asked.

  11. #11
    I did it about 15 years ago. At the time I think I was a Student and working part-time so didn't interfere too much.

    Had one case involving a Sunday League football flight. In all it was quite interesting, had a lot of waiting around, cancelled afternoons or late starts but I did hit it off with a nice Blonde bird which made it worth going in for.

  12. #12
    Grand Master Foxy100's Avatar
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    I did it a few years ago, one person was let off because of a complete lack of childcare I think but no one else tried. We were lucky I think, we started at 11 every day and only once went past 2 or 2:30. It was a nice couple of weeks off work for me although the whole thing was an eye opener, including the conduct of the jury, the fact the defendant and one of the jurors shared a bus in from Andover to Winchester every day, the witnesses were wholly unreliable and the prosecution stuck to their planned case and didn't pick up on any of the juicy things the defendant admitted to (same for the defence and the witnesses). I ended up feeling sorry for the judge more than anyone else.

    In 1995 my sister was called up for a case where they were all warned it was particularly nasty and might take some time and be subject to press scrutiny and they were being a bit more lax about people being able to bail out. She jumped, turned out to be the Rosemary West case.
    You can live in your car but you can't drive your house.

  13. #13
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    I was called a few years ago for jury service at the Sherriff court in Glasgow. I was relieved that it wasn't the High court since some trials there can run for months. I was selected on the Monday and the trial ran for three days. It was a fairly straightforward case with some solid evidence and testimony however the Jury deliberations were an education for me in understanding that not everyone sees the world in the same way.

    All in all it was an interesting experience however I wouldn't fancy serving on a six week murder trial jury especially when you have to sit beside the accused's relatives in the waiting room each morning.

    regards
    grant

  14. #14
    Master quoll's Avatar
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    I did it a couple of years ago. Admittedly in Australia, but our justice system is very similar. Two weeks service and I was impaneled for three trials. I was selected for the jury on the first and excused/challenged on the others (once by prosecution and once by defence). The last one was a tax fraud case that was expected to run for three months. Phew.

    I found it very interesting. The case I did sit on only lasted four days. I ended up as jury foreman/spokesperson - the person who takes the judge's instruction, structures deliberations (in theory), gives everyone a say, takes the successive votes and then responds to the judge's questions. So I got to do the 'Guilty/Not Guilty' bit in court at the end. It was a nasty sexual assault case, so not very nice details.

    I heartily agree with whoever posted above that there should be a bigotry and intelligence test to qualify for jury service. There were some real morons. The conduct of the case was an eye-opener too. It struck me as very amateur, even though it was a state-level case with wigs and barristers.

  15. #15
    I was called last year and ended up sitting on a 3 month long fraud case. It was interesting at times funny at others and incredibly dull the rest of the time. (listening to hours of telephone call transcripts read out by a barrister isn't something I wish to repeat).

    As to getting out of it, our judge was pretty harsh, work in a small team? tough. Have trouble getting to the court? tough. Holiday planned? tough. Basically, unless you had a holiday paid for, had childcare issues or were self employed and would suffer damage to your business you were in.

    I did get a 12 year exemption letter at the end as a way of the judge saying thanks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonzo697 View Post
    What happens if you work as a contractor - can you reclaim your lost daily rate?
    I got called up about 10 years ago. I read the supplied booklet setting out the laughable daily allowances and exs for travel and stuff ( which at the time seemed roughly equivalent to the dole + travel exs ... ) and wrote them a polite letter saying that I was a self-employed IT contractor and would lose a LOT of money each day if called up, which meant I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage etc.

    Got a letter back saying that I was excused and have heard nothing since. Don't know if it has changed since then.

  17. #17
    https://www.gov.uk/jury-service/what-you-can-claim

    days 1-10 £64.95 a day (whole day)

    days 11-200 £129.91


    they'll pay for childcare too but only about enough to hire a locker somewhere and dump the kid inside.

  18. #18
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Have been called up thrice and every time gave them the self employed spiel (which was correct) and was released on every occasion.

    Seems to me it is only the unemployed, minimum wage earners and pensioners willing to go.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

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  19. #19
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    I did it 7 years ago. Spent more time waiting in the jurors room than in court. First case lasted 3 days & we couldn't get a majority verdict. Second week, the guy pleaded guilty hJust as we were about to go in to court. So that was that. Pita to be honest

  20. #20
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Three times! How unlucky is that! 2 x Crown Court and 1 x coroners court. Foreman twice.

    Don't mind doing it - I actually believe that the justice system in this country is worth supporting.
    However I would endorse all the negative comments so far about IQ and bigotry.

  21. #21
    Master Cirrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Three times! How unlucky is that! 2 x Crown Court and 1 x coroners court. Foreman twice.

    Don't mind doing it - I actually believe that the justice system in this country is worth supporting.
    However I would endorse all the negative comments so far about IQ and bigotry.
    The flip side to having the right to trial by jury... is that sometimes you have to be on a jury ;)

  22. #22
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    The whole Jury system is deeply flawed. We should adopt the bench system that other countries have.

    3 magistrates sitting locally for minor offenses and initial hearings as we do now and extend that to have 3 judges and no jury for more serious offenses in crown courts.

    We should also run a 3 shift system to have 24/7 justice :)

  23. #23
    Master Cirrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_Mcr View Post
    The whole Jury system is deeply flawed. We should adopt the bench system that other countries have.

    3 magistrates sitting locally for minor offenses and initial hearings as we do now and extend that to have 3 judges and no jury for more serious offenses in crown courts.

    We should also run a 3 shift system to have 24/7 justice :)
    The problem with that is that you get law, but not necessarily justice; being able to appeal to a jury of lay persons while a judge controls the structure of the trial allows for both.

  24. #24
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    I'd genuinely love to do it. Never been called and I'm 36 years young. I envisage a Clouseau type affair where I would have to add up all the clues. In reality I'd say its boring as he'll.

  25. #25
    I did it a few years ago, they cancelled the Monday at 5pm on the Friday before, turned up Tuesday did not get picked, think the solicitor thought I was too likely to send his client down. Then told to come back Thursday got a message at 5 pm on Wednesday saying to come back Monday, turned up Monday waited till 2pm for case got selected, came back Tuesday to start case. Defence said that he was mad, listen to medical assessment, prosecution agreed got dismissed till next day, judge told us to agree that bloke was not fit to stand trial, got sent home by 11.30, got called at 5pm and asked if I there was any reason I could not do a long trial I said it would be difficult at work, got told I was officially dismissed from duty. Bit of waste really did not get a proper case or send any scum down

  26. #26
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    The most frustrating 2 weeks of my life.

    I went to a crown court intent on doing my civic duty and kept being put up for jury's on trials with time estimates of 12+ weeks and having to make excuses to the judge to be stood down from the jury.

    I kept asking to be put up for shorter trials and was told it was not that simple. Net result was 2 weeks totally wasted as did not get on a trial and was left to feel a pariah by some judges for not being willing to put my hand up for 3 months away from work when we were struggling to keep everything afloat at the height of the financial crisis.

    It left me with no faith in the system either, as I often saw intelligent, attentive, retired people who would willingly have sat through the longer trials and done a good job regularly being objected to by defendants' brief, favouring those who (putting it delicately) were clearly less able to follow the finer details of what would be a long and drawn out set of evidence.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonzo697 View Post
    What happens if you work as a contractor - can you reclaim your lost daily rate?
    No, but you can get jury duty insurance which pays out for the time you are called up

  28. #28
    Master gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegreatdogwood View Post
    It left me with no faith in the system either, as I often saw intelligent, attentive, retired people who would willingly have sat through the longer trials and done a good job regularly being objected to by defendants' brief, favouring those who (putting it delicately) were clearly less able to follow the finer details of what would be a long and drawn out set of evidence.
    I didn't see a single person objected to in my two weeks so I guess you were unlucky. Also, while it would seem sensible to favour those who "would have done a good job" (I had similar thoughts myself), you immediately skew the jury away from being the representative body it is supposed to be.

  29. #29
    Called up, but never served on a jury in the 2 weeks.

    Made it into court on about the 4th day as a reserve in case one of the 12 had a conflict or were objected to - they weren't.

    After that, I just had to phone in a couple of times to check I wouldn't be needed.
    Andy

  30. #30
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    Done it 3 times, twice as foreman.

    Last case a murder trial. We swore in 3 juries on the first day alone.

    Still worth doing as feel it is my way of putting something back into society.

  31. #31
    Interesting, just how likely is it you have to do it? I don't know anyone who's been called! Although that makes me sound like Billy No Mates..

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by gunner View Post
    I didn't see a single person objected to in my two weeks so I guess you were unlucky. Also, while it would seem sensible to favour those who "would have done a good job" (I had similar thoughts myself), you immediately skew the jury away from being the representative body it is supposed to be.
    I thought the whole jury selection thing only went on in america, in my trail the jurors were offered the chance to disqualify themselves by reason of knowing a witness defendant or working for an organisation. The only involvement the barristers had was discussing the problems with a mother son combo on the same jury. None had ever encounter that before.

    I can't find online anything that says the defence can reject anyone bar this

    Challenging the jury

    Once the court clerk has selected the final 12 jurors, they will then enter the jury box to be sworn in as jurors. Prior to this, once the jurors enter the court, both the prosecution and defence council will have the opportunity to challenge one or more of the jurors.

    The two challenges both the prosecution and defence can claim are:

    To the array, and,

    For Cause

    The prosecution will also have a special right to stand by.
    To the Array

    The right to the array will challenge the jury on the basis that it has been chosen in an unrepresentative or biased way.
    For Cause

    A challenge 'for cause' will challenge an individual juror's right to sit on the jury. In order for such a challenge to be successful, the challenging party will have to provide a valid reason why the juror in question should not sit on that case.

    An obvious reason is if the juror has been disqualified for a particular reason. Another reason would be if any witness, or other party to the court proceedings know or is related to the juror.

    If such jurors are not removed from the jury then there is the potential for the case conviction to be quashed due to a miscarriage of justice.
    Nothing there suggests he looks like he'll send our an down would be a valid reason.

  33. #33
    Master MakeColdplayHistory's Avatar
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    I haven't done it and would love to do it. In part I think this is because, if I was ill and off-school as a kid, I used to watch "Crown Court" and part because I do think it is an important part of our justice system and shouldn't be left to the unemployed, feckless and retired. I'm also interested in the 'process' of justice.

    However, most people I know who have done it haven't enjoyed it. It seems to be either completely tedious or pretty harrowing depending on the case(s) you get.

    I have, though, appeared as a witness for the defense for someone who I was pretty convinced was guilty. Part of the jigsaw of his defense case was that he was in a particular place and did a particular thing on a particular date. It was true that he had and I was witness to the fact that he had. As it happens the case was thrown out after I had given evidence. It came to light that some key prosecution evidence was inadmissible.

  34. #34
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    Called up 4 times,unless you have a genuine reason to " get out of it" then yes I suppose you can be excused,I actually found it interesting,although their is quite a lot of waiting around reading and playing cards etc etc.
    Unless your unlucky! some might say lucky to get an high profile case then yes this could last for a while,good/bad or a nice break from the daily drudgery of your normal day job.
    Nice to see how the justice system operates...I didn't want to say works,so used the word operates!.

  35. #35
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    My wife has been pinged with it twice in a year, once in Scotland then again in England when we moved back here, she enjoying it and her employers where ok with it, thats a big factor I think, and she met some great people in the jury, one bloke was a wedding photographer and did our wedding for less than half price!

    So it can be an oportunity....

  36. #36
    I did in the late 70's at the Old Bailey in London. I got on an attempted murder case. The man had been attacked with a small wood chopping axe, the police photographs showed his skull had been split like a coconut. I couldn't believe the victim was sitting there in the court, he should have been dead.

    The problem was the judge insisted on a unanimous verdict, and one of the jurers was an anti-police hippy type, so it was 11-1 and the judge had to call for a retrial. I don't know how that ended, but the guy was clearly guilty.

  37. #37
    One of the most memorable things we did when i was at sixth form studying for A levels was that most students were taken to court and sat in the public gallery for the morning. It was fascinating - i'll never forget the charged atmosphere, the strange procedure and the way one defendant was giving us evil looks (we were very well behaved by the way). I couldn't believe how emotional it got - crying, shouting etc, there were some quite sad cases - shoplifting etc and even if they were found guilty you did feel quite sorry for the state of some of them. If you're interested in the legal system and always intrigued what goes on - go and sit in the public gallery of any court I thought it was fascinating and enlightening.
    Last edited by vulcangascompany; 3rd December 2013 at 13:03.

  38. #38
    Grand Master
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    i got called and for a week every trial never went to court, lots of sitting around reading papers and playing scrabble. The smokers had a sealed perspex box room with a direct air expel to outside - you cannot leave the building unless dismissed. I always thought you could defer it once but if you did it again you had to have a very very good reason or you could be held in contempt.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim W View Post

    The problem was the judge insisted on a unanimous verdict, and one of the jurers was an anti-police hippy type, so it was 11-1 and the judge had to call for a retrial. I don't know how that ended, but the guy was clearly guilty.
    Best mate had something similar only last month. One juror refused to find the defendant guilty on the basis that she didn't believe she had the skills or moral capacity to find someone guilty. That also went to retrial.

  40. #40
    I've done it twice and the mrs 3 times.

    My parents have never done it. But that's probably the difference between living in glasgow and north wales.

    Waste of time in my experience as the case collapsed when stories were changed. The accused and victim left together soon after and the jury got a 10 minute lecture from the judge about the perils of drinking!

    Being called as a witness for a stabbing between two members of the same low-life family was equally a waste of time - They didn't turn up for three days leaving me to sit in the waiting room watching bargain hunt.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by gunner View Post
    I did it last year and it was fine.

    My tips would be:

    2. Take your own food and pocket the allowance at the end of your stint.
    It appears to work a little differently up here in Scotland - the jury is taken to lunch, and is escorted at all times........ presumably it's to stop jury knobbling.

    My wife works for the Scottish Court Service, so I'm exempt from appearing as a juror......... presumably to stop the wife from knobbling me

  42. #42
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    Never been in the Jury ; was up in front of them once though.

    I thought they did a great job ; unanimously not guilty...the Judge seemd annoyed the CPS had even brought the case against me.

    Remember that moment well for the rest of my life; couldn't get out of the dock fast enough. Even the police detective on the case congratulated me and said he was happy with the outcome. My thoughts were "why the bloody hell did you charge me then?".

    Nightmare 6 months going through the process though ; worst time in my life but I have to say everyone involved was very civilised and supportive including most of the Police.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by acg View Post
    They didn't turn up for three days leaving me to sit in the waiting room watching bargain hunt.
    A cruel and unusual punishment in anybody's books.

  44. #44
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    I did it many years ago now. It was at the Old Bailey and I thought it would be interesting...

    We were sent home the first two days after lunch, then the third day put in front of a judge and told that the case would last approx 6 months so we could go back to our employers and inform them...and get them to write us letters to excuse us if we couldn't be away for that long...

    Anyway, the next day we all came back (I think there were 30 of us) and one by one had to go in front of the judge and present our excuses. After the jury was picked, the rest of us were back to waiting. Turned out to be this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jimmy_Mizen

    Next day we got onto a case where someone had stabbed (non fatally) at a new years party. Three days of both the prosecution and defence bringing out witnesses who contradicted each other. Prosecution "witnesses" were friends of the victim and defence "witnesses" friends of the defendant. Absolutely no evidence provided to us by the CPS - the police just confirmed that it was the defendant that they arrested and that was pretty much it. Based on the lack of evidence we had to deliver a not guilty verdict even though we all thought she'd done it.

    I was amazed that it even got to court and hate to think how much that farce cost the tax payer.

  45. #45
    Master IAmATeaf's Avatar
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    Started jury duty last week, just finished the first case, historic allegations, uncle who groped (and more) 2 of his nieces, one was 12-15 and then 9 years later a 6 year old. He was charged with 8 counts (2 for the 12 year old and 6 for the 6 year old).

    I was looking forward to the time off from work but found the case quite harrowing and stressful. Found him guilty on all 8 charges, the first 2 with a 10 to 2 majority, the rest unanimous. The atmosphere in the court room was electric and as each of the verdicts were delivered the noises from the various families I won't forget in a hurry. One of our jury members was also visibly shaken as the verdicts were delivered in 2 parts as the judge gave us more time to see if 10-2 could be improved.

    Back there tomorrow, hope I get a simple shop lifting case where my mind can relax. 🤔

  46. #46
    Craftsman Incredible Sulk's Avatar
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    I've been called three times - first time at the Old Bailey, but was dismissed on the first day as the trials we had been panelled for collapsed. Then a further twice at the local Crown Court. Four weeks service in total. If there is a trial that is likely to last more than a fortnight, they do ask you whether you would be able to extend your service past two weeks. I never got one of those though.

    For those that suggest that it might be more appropriate for a panel of judges or magistrates to decide on guilt, I think that a spell on Jury Service is worth doing so you can see how the Jury system works. Me, I'm all for it. Stats for me: Not Guilty x 3 (unanimous 2, majority 1), Guilty x 1 (majority), unable to reach a verdict x 1.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by gunner View Post

    My tips would be:

    ...
    3. Take a laptop ...

    Don't let it out of your sight : courts are full of thieving so-&-sos.

    And their clients.

  48. #48
    Master soundood's Avatar
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    yep, done it and voted guilty in the Jury room, even though the other 11 felt the opposite, we were there for three weeks, to tell the truth I was lying and just really liked the egg mayo sandwiches.

  49. #49
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    298
    Yep. Was called in the early 80s when still a very young man. First case of its kind in the UK and it involved numerous lectures prior to the actual case being heard properly by experts throughout the world flown in to explain to us what was then an almost unknown virus / illness called HIV3.

    I can tell you with a degree of certainty that after days of lectures and information given on what to us at the time was an unheard of illness, most of the jury and everyone else was convinced that the apocalypse had arrived and mankind was finished! About a year later all hell broke out in the media and HIV and AIDS related stories were everywhere.

    The case involved somebody trying to deliberately infect a police officer with the virus. Very complex case dependent on the perpetrator knowing enough to act in a deliberate manner......

    Glad I went through it and learned what I did then as I later used some of the research in my career.

    Never been called since and because of my work now I am disqualified from being called.

    Chris

  50. #50
    Been called twice, was out of the country each time the summons came through and my folks wrote back saying I would not be back in time for the 1st one and the 2nd time I would be leaving the country again (tickets already booked) half way through the time. Added in that I would probably not be available for at least the next 5 yrs (contracting overseas) and would let them know when I would be back in the UK full-time. Never heard anymore after that. I wish I could have done it as I fully believe in 'civic duty' but once I'm retired and have time I'd be more than willing to do it.

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