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Frank Hovis

Jury Service

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Seeing Danny DeVito on jury service yesterday made me think how infrequently people seem to get called for this. I used to think it was inevitable that one got called a few times but now I'm not so sure. Hence the straw poll.

With trials by jury happening continually I am quite surprised how rare this seems to be.

The poll is for "called", I know it's possible to get out of it if you or your employer can make a case. If you've been called more than once can you think why this might be? I wonder if geography is part of it with some crown courts, especially in rural areas, getting less jury trials.

To start with I have never been called and most people I know in my rural area haven't either so my expectation is for this option to win.

Funny courtroom anecdotals welcomed by the way.

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This is one of two reasons I keep off the electoral register these days (the other being junkmail).

OK, this 2007 blog entry says it:

John is doing “jury service” this week. Two days so far sitting in a waiting room, then being dismissed at lunchtime because nothing was happening. What a splendidly productive use of a busy man’s time, not to mention the taxpayer’s money! John is at least fortunate that his day job is with a public-sector organisation big enough to take the loss.

Jury service, like tax, is the state taking from its citizens without the option. Unlike taxes, it doesn’t pay for anything productive: rather you’re being coopted to listen to grossly overpaid actors (aka barristers) performing, without the benefit of a show you would want to see. OK, which barrister convinced you? That’ll be the one working for the biggest crook, who knows how to Play the System. If you ever believed The Liar, you’re likely to be convinced by the biggest liar in court, too.

And you’re deprived of your liberty and normal life for an indefinite period: unlike convicted criminals, jurors don’t get time off for good behaviour. Self-employed, or a crucial person in a small business? Tough – just go under, as you cannot service your contracts, and if you’re lucky you can start again before you lose your house at least. A teacher? That’s 30 kids with their education disrupted, unless the school happens to have quite a lot of slack.

This whole jury system is a crime against humanity. So what can one do about it? If you Play the Game and pronounce a verdict based on the show you’ve just seen, you’re letting yourself become complicit in that crime. If you refuse to go when summoned, you commit a criminal offence (though the penalties for it might be less trouble than the service itself). There’s no satisfactory solution.

To cap it all, if you get a real gangster, you and your loved ones might be at significant personal risk if you find against them. And of course they’ll then get any adverse verdict overturned by a higher court without the encumbrance of a jury, on the time-honoured principle of innocent until proven broke.

It seems to me that, so long as the loss of time is bearable, the least bad outcomeis non-cooperation within the law. That means going through the motions, but discounting everything presented to you by those overpaid spin-doctors in court. You have (by law) to give a verdict, and there’s only one verdict in a criminal case:

* If the accused didn’t do it, they are Not Guilty.

* If the accused did do it, they are still Not Guilty. That’s the lesser of two evils: it’s an injustice, but one that has to be set against complicity in the far bigger crime of the jury system.

Any exceptions to that? Certainly not when trying a private individual: not even someone like Ian Huntley or Fred and Rosemary West. For a public figure whose crimes are on a global scale? Well, if I were on the jury for The Liar himself, it would be a tough call.

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Guest Absolutely Fabulous

I enjoyed my jury service. smile.gif

I lost no earnings, sat on three juries and was elected foreman on one of them, during which which we had a bomb scare and we ended up in the bomb shelter beneath the court buildings - escorted there by several police and tracker dogs!

Food was good too. I thought I might like to work in a comfy court surrounding. It beat the hell out run-down college buildings.

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This is one of two reasons I keep off the electoral register these days (the other being junkmail).

Ditto above. My third reason is that being a contractor I don't think I would get paid my full rate as I'd be paid under the government scheme.

I would find them all guilty anyway, whatever it was they did.

PS I have had a friend called twice for jury service and I've also known a work colleage (not contractor) have to serve 4 weeks on jury service...it was a murder trial.

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PS I have had a friend called twice for jury service and I've also known a work colleage (not contractor) have to serve 4 weeks on jury service...it was a murder trial.

4 weeks.... my aunt did something like 18 months on some sort of fraud trial. They were not there every day of course but it went on forever, luckily she was a house wife as the time so no loss of earnings for her. Thing is none of the jury had a bloody clue about the details of the case as it was all far too complicated.

I too am surprised how few people actually get called. My wife has done it once but other than her and my aunt can't think of anybody else I know who has done it.

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Bizarre, why are so many people called multiple times? It looks like if you are called once your more likely to be caled again

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Two in this family have been called but neither of us did it.

I was called when I had a young baby that I was still feeding myself.

My mother in law was a mite miffed at the time since she'd have loved to do it but had never been asked.

Daughter was called when her uni finals were coming up.

A colleague was called recently and had no reason or wish to duck out. She found it very interesting, no big juicy cases though. However there was a gay shoplifter who camped it up like mad in the courtroom like a sort of Kenneth Williams send- up, evidently hugely enjoying an audience and (she said) had everybody down to the judge in fits.

He was still found guilty, though, and they found out later that he'd got a string of previous.

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I've never done jury service and I don't want to do it. I'll save the courts the bother and just say: GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY and GUILTY. There, I've covered 5 court cases already!

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Two in this family have been called but neither of us did it.

I was called when I had a young baby that I was still feeding myself.

My mother in law was a mite miffed at the time since she'd have loved to do it but had never been asked.

Daughter was called when her uni finals were coming up.

A colleague was called recently and had no reason or wish to duck out. She found it very interesting, no big juicy cases though. However there was a gay shoplifter who camped it up like mad in the courtroom like a sort of Kenneth Williams send- up, evidently hugely enjoying an audience and (she said) had everybody down to the judge in fits.

He was still found guilty, though, and they found out later that he'd got a string of previous.

That's the sort of thing!

I spent a morning in the public gallery of Marlborough Road magistrates court one time as somebody said it was great and when he was in the merchant navy and skint it was a great way to spend a day warm and dry with entertainment on tap. It must have been a slow day when I went as it was very dull.

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On a more serious note than my previous post....

If one's called for jury service, is that just in one's local county court or can one be called to go to the Old Bailey or other courts out of one's area?

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This is one of two reasons I keep off the electoral register these days (the other being junkmail).

Presumably i) you mean opt-out option on the ER and ii) you also do the other things that are more effective at reducing junk mail? :)

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Never been called but would love t be. A friend is doing it next week - think I'm gonna go sit in the public gallery andsee if I can make her giggle.

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Guest Absolutely Fabulous

Two in this family have been called but neither of us did it.

I was called when I had a young baby that I was still feeding myself.

My mother in law was a mite miffed at the time since she'd have loved to do it but had never been asked.

Daughter was called when her uni finals were coming up.

A colleague was called recently and had no reason or wish to duck out. She found it very interesting, no big juicy cases though. However there was a gay shoplifter who camped it up like mad in the courtroom like a sort of Kenneth Williams send- up, evidently hugely enjoying an audience and (she said) had everybody down to the judge in fits.

He was still found guilty, though, and they found out later that he'd got a string of previous.

The one where I served as foreman, the defendant was a right villain: he got off mad.gif - 'cos some stupid lefty types decided that they weren't entitled to condemn someone to jail - overlooking the fact that jury duty entitled you to do JUST that.dry.gif

Evidence was overwhelming too. They were also anti-police and were almost applauding the fact that a young copper nearly got shot. The perp. had been going to kill his girlfriend 'cos she was having an abortion, and the young copper had got in there and disarmed him.

I was SO embarrassed having to be the one to return a hung-jury verdict, but was very glad the judge gave the young PC a commendation for bravery - he damned well deserved it.

I was also glad when they read out the perps. 'previous' after the verdict - He was a real scumbag. So once again bleeding heart liberal let loose another felon to cause mayhem. Which he did and finally ended up in jail.

On a lighter note: one of my fellow jurymen on two of the trials was an Eric Sykes look-alike - a window cleaner and an absolute scream.tongue.gif He had us all in stitches in the 'rest room' whilst we waited for trials.

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jury service is a form of civilian conscription. i was called the first time a couple of years ago and managed to get it deferred due to family illness. no second deferrments are allowed so i had to do it the next year.

imagine a room full of 200+ people from all walks of life, 90% of whom don't want to be there, are moaning about it constantly and dodging for ways to be released from it.

it's mostly sitting about on armchairs and i alternated between working via mobile internet, conversing with my fellow conscriptees and getting some ZZZZs while keeping one ear open for my name being called. i was kept for 10 days and paid ~£800 in compensation.

on the one complete trial that i was called for i finally realized a life's ambition: to play henry fonda in "12 angry men". the case was a "proceeds of crime act" stitch-up where the cops had busted into the flat of a chap (7 yrs) previously convicted of drug smuggling and with no solid evidence of current misbehaviour, proceeded to nick 17K in cash that they found on the premises. unfortunately for him he looked just like a drug dealer as generally portrayed on "the bill" and after the charges were read, everybody else was ready to find him guilty. we sat for an acrimonious 8 hours and i turned it around to 9-3 to acquit which was enough to secure a mistrial.

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Why do so many people here seem to be proud of the fact that they managed to "get out" of doing jury service? If you're one of them do you still feel the need to criticise the system that you chose to have no inpact on when you could easily have done so?

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Why do so many people here seem to be proud of the fact that they managed to "get out" of doing jury service? If you're one of them do you still feel the need to criticise the system that you chose to have no inpact on when you could easily have done so?

It's normal to try to avoid doing things you don't want to do. I don't like sending my cars for MOT, but I support the idea of MOT tests and I don't think my cars should be exempt.

By the way, some people have been talking about cases they were involved in as jurors. That is an offence.

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Guest Absolutely Fabulous

I am puzzled by the number of people who said they'd lose earnings. I did not, and I was working full-time. Why did some of you?huh.gif Also you express dislike of doing it.

Mind you it WAS 1983, and I suspect the attitude also was different. The jurors did not go into raptures about it, neither did they dislike it terribly. We all seemed to see it as a necessary part of life - a duty - and made the best of it.

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By the way, some people have been talking about cases they were involved in as jurors. That is an offence.

hardly, unless you identify the court and the case.

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It's normal to try to avoid doing things you don't want to do. I don't like sending my cars for MOT, but I support the idea of MOT tests and I don't think my cars should be exempt.

By the way, some people have been talking about cases they were involved in as jurors. That is an offence.

But surely most people (especially those who constantly criticise the system) would feel some sort of moral responsibility to do it?

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Guest Absolutely Fabulous

hardly, unless you identify the court and the case.

Yes, it IS an offence to discuss a case. Particularly during, slightly after. I reckon 27 years later with no reference to town or names of those involved, it is ludicrous to even suggest it.

How the hell do people imagine they write books like the Moors murders?rolleyes.gif

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I am puzzled by the number of people who said they'd lose earnings. I did not, and I was working full-time. Why did some of you?huh.gif Also you express dislike of doing it.

Mind you it WAS 1983, and I suspect the attitude also was different. The jurors did not go into raptures about it, neither did they dislike it terribly. We all seemed to see it as a necessary part of life - a duty - and made the best of it.

There could be consequential losses. For example someone might want to employ you on a two week contract, but you have to do jury service. Would they pay for the whole two weeks or just the time you were on the jury ?

Also the fact that you could not take on a contract due to jury service might compromise future work with a client.

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  • 145 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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