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  1. #1
    consultant consultant is offline

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    Jury Duty

    Recently, for the first time, I was summoned to attend the Circuit Court for jury duty. I have to say, the process was not very juror-friendly.

    The summons arrived in a brown haped envelope (no problem with that) and consisted of two apparently mimeographed sheets of paper stating my name, address and the date I was summoned to attend. It also described who was debarred from serving, what might be the grounds of exemption from service and the penalties for not attending etc.

    There was nothing to describe the process.

    On attendance at the courthouse, there was no receptionist and nothing to direct you where to go. Eventually, a number of us recognised the mutual confusion and congregated in the main hallway until a couple of gardai arrived and basically told us to wait till called.

    On entering the courtroom, the 200+ of us were told to sit while our individual attendance was confirmed. We then awaited on the arrival of the judge (for which we were instructed to stand then sit when he did) and he took the time to thank us and explain the importance of the role to be played by jurors. He then outlined the case scheduled to be tried and the Prosecutor read out the names of witnesses scheduled to appear during the case.

    A clerk then started to randomly draw names and addresses out of a box and those selected were instructed to take their places in the jury box (12) or for the 6 reserves, to stand in front of the box. The 12 were then sworn in or applied to be excused stating the reasons why they should be. Most of those looking to be excused were and some (young; tattooed; shaven head and ZZ Top beard; pink-dyed hair and bestudded face; cross-dresser???) were refused by either the defence or prosecution and other names drawn to make up the short-fall until a 12 were confirmed and sworn in. These 'lucky' ones were then sent to the jury room to elect a foreman (the judge explaining that the foreman could be a woman who would still be referred to as the foreman).

    In their absence, the rest of us were instructed that we had to remain until the election was completed. The judge also told us that, while we were not the 'chosen' ones, he was giving us a telephone number that we were instructed to call after 4.30 every evening to hear a recorded message and it was very important that we do so. The "All arise" instruction was issued, which all did and the judge left the room. Prior to his doing so, I had tried to ask him a question but he ignored me while the clerk vigorously gestured to shut me up.

    After the judge was gone, the clerk called me up to the bench where she basically told me off for trying to talk to the judge without him inviting me to do so. I explained that I only wanted to know if there was a time-limit for how long we would have to call the number or were we required to do so for the rest of our days. The clerk gave me a completion date.

    After the jury returned to confirm the foreman (who was), the judge came back and we all had to go to the 'arise', 'be-seated' process while he again said that we were performing an essential part of the judicial process and sent us away.

    I do not doubt or question the importance of the jury process. Nor do I particularly object to being summoned even though, being self-employed, my attendance would result in loss of earnings. I do, however, think that the process could be better applied.

    Surely, the summons could include simple explanations of what the juror's responsibilities would be, what the process consists of, the importance of the function and just something to make those summoned more positive about the whole thing?

    Equally, the court protocol is out-dated and designed to intimdate those outside the legal circle. Wigs, gowns and kowtowing to the over-payed elite should be banned.

    Oh and given I forgot to make the phone-call (that surely should be made to me, not the other way around) I am writing this as I furtively await being manacled and led away by the law.
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  2. #2
    consultant consultant is offline

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    Not to trivialise the issue, but on writing about it, I remembered this ditty from way back.

    Should be played in the cells.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXR7iMbkLCM]YouTube - Here Come The Judge by the Magistrates 1968[/ame]
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  3. #3
    Casillas Casillas is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by consultant View Post
    Recently, for the first time, I was summoned to attend the Circuit Court for jury duty. I have to say, the process was not very juror-friendly.

    The summons arrived in a brown haped envelope (no problem with that) and consisted of two apparently mimeographed sheets of paper stating my name, address and the date I was summoned to attend. It also described who was debarred from serving, what might be the grounds of exemption from service and the penalties for not attending etc.

    There was nothing to describe the process.

    On attendance at the courthouse, there was no receptionist and nothing to direct you where to go. Eventually, a number of us recognised the mutual confusion and congregated in the main hallway until a couple of gardai arrived and basically told us to wait till called.

    On entering the courtroom, the 200+ of us were told to sit while our individual attendance was confirmed. We then awaited on the arrival of the judge (for which we were instructed to stand then sit when he did) and he took the time to thank us and explain the importance of the role to be played by jurors. He then outlined the case scheduled to be tried and the Prosecutor read out the names of witnesses scheduled to appear during the case.

    A clerk then started to randomly draw names and addresses out of a box and those selected were instructed to take their places in the jury box (12) or for the 6 reserves, to stand in front of the box. The 12 were then sworn in or applied to be excused stating the reasons why they should be. Most of those looking to be excused were and some (young; tattooed; shaven head and ZZ Top beard; pink-dyed hair and bestudded face; cross-dresser???) were refused by either the defence or prosecution and other names drawn to make up the short-fall until a 12 were confirmed and sworn in. These 'lucky' ones were then sent to the jury room to elect a foreman (the judge explaining that the foreman could be a woman who would still be referred to as the foreman).

    In their absence, the rest of us were instructed that we had to remain until the election was completed. The judge also told us that, while we were not the 'chosen' ones, he was giving us a telephone number that we were instructed to call after 4.30 every evening to hear a recorded message and it was very important that we do so. The "All arise" instruction was issued, which all did and the judge left the room. Prior to his doing so, I had tried to ask him a question but he ignored me while the clerk vigorously gestured to shut me up.

    After the judge was gone, the clerk called me up to the bench where she basically told me off for trying to talk to the judge without him inviting me to do so. I explained that I only wanted to know if there was a time-limit for how long we would have to call the number or were we required to do so for the rest of our days. The clerk gave me a completion date.

    After the jury returned to confirm the foreman (who was), the judge came back and we all had to go to the 'arise', 'be-seated' process while he again said that we were performing an essential part of the judicial process and sent us away.

    I do not doubt or question the importance of the jury process. Nor do I particularly object to being summoned even though, being self-employed, my attendance would result in loss of earnings. I do, however, think that the process could be better applied.

    Surely, the summons could include simple explanations of what the juror's responsibilities would be, what the process consists of, the importance of the function and just something to make those summoned more positive about the whole thing?

    Equally, the court protocol is out-dated and designed to intimdate those outside the legal circle. Wigs, gowns and kowtowing to the over-payed elite should be banned.

    Oh and given I forgot to make the phone-call (that surely should be made to me, not the other way around) I am writing this as I furtively await being manacled and led away by the law.
    Lol, I quite enjoyed that read, especially the piece about young, tattooed people being rejected! Stereotyping is alive and well in our little island nation.
    I agree that the system should be streamlined, but practically every system in the country needs to be streamlined and those with the authority to do so, really don't seem to care enough to do so.
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  4. #4
    seanad voter seanad voter is offline

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    Sounds typically Free State alright. But don't worry, some day the 21st century will catch up with ye.
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  5. #5
    Watcher2 Watcher2 is offline

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    Oh the temerity of you addressing a judge without being invited to so do.

    Feckin arsed up [insert appropriate expletive].

    Could you being self employed not be grounds for you to be excused from jury duty given that a case can go on for quite a while and you dont get any reimbursement for fulfilling that particular duty?

    How do they expect you to pay your bills because you never know what kind of case you will get or how long it will go on for?
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  6. #6
    consultant consultant is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by seanad voter View Post
    Sounds typically Free State alright. But don't worry, some day the 21st century will catch up with ye.

    Perhaps you should be concerned more about the Free State fuzz catching up with you and subjecting you to the rigors (mortis?) of our judicial system!!
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  7. #7
    lostexpectation lostexpectation is offline

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    where was this? was called to jury picking recently in dublin never heard about the phone call thing, but a fair amount of people are picked and make excuses and the judge let most if not all go, nothing amazing in your above story.

    there was about 100 ppl there when i was there.
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  8. #8
    ivnryn ivnryn is offline

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    I was called a while ago, and the process was that we had to attend every morning at 9:30. They only actually selected a jury the first day. Normally, we would wait in a room for 45 mins or so, and then were called into the court. The judge would then tell us we weren't needed (but he also covered the importance of jury duty and thanked us for attending).

    I would have preferred to just have to ring a number every evening rather than spending around 2 hours every morning going into the court, just to be told there was no cases.
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  9. #9
    consultant consultant is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher2 View Post
    Oh the temerity of you addressing a judge without being invited to so do.

    Feckin arsed up [insert appropriate expletive].

    Could you being self employed not be grounds for you to be excused from jury duty given that a case can go on for quite a while and you dont get any reimbursement for fulfilling that particular duty?

    How do they expect you to pay your bills because you never know what kind of case you will get or how long it will go on for?

    I contacted the Clerk of the Court prior to my summons date and explained exactly that fact. I was told that I could not be exempted on the grounds of being self employed.

    An employer must, by law, pay any employee summoned for jury duty for the full duration of enactment of the summons.

    At the same time, by the way, while I was in the court, both prosecution and defence legal teams (barristers, solicitors etc.) were in court presumeably being paid for their attendance by the State. I can see no need for any of them while the jury is being selected and certainly not for the entire entourage.
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  10. #10
    FutureTaoiseach FutureTaoiseach is offline
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    To answer the twitter question - No. However, my mother was drafted for possible jury-duty in the early 1990's.
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