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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Jury Service - Days 1&2

It started with a heart-warming attempt by a member of one of our migrant communities to do his citizen duty by turning up as summoned despite having no knowledge of English. Helpfully, he'd brought his wife and daughter along to interpret but the usher would have none of it and told him to go away.

Our Courts are run on a basis of a lot of false starts and hanging around. As a trial is about to start, the usher gets his computer to produce a list of 16 names out of the 28 or so of us hanging around. Then he asks who is willing to swear on the bible, who wants to "affirm" and (anxiously) are there any requests for other holy books? Then he prints 16 cards with our names on. Then, it's quite likely word will come that the defendant has pleaded guilty at which point Mr. Usher tears up all the paperwork and throws it in the bin.

A little later the whole process repeats from scratch! As a result, I didn't get to do a trial at all on the first day but such was the excitement that when I got home I went to sleep on the sofa and missed going out dancing.

Today was better. Sixteen of us got led into court but then they shuffle the name cards and call out 12 names to form the jury. Smiling, the usher shows me to seat number 10. I mention this detail because if you are ever a juror at Gloucester Crown Court, you would do best to avoid seat 10 in court 1 because it creaks loudly at the slightest movement resulting in intense embarrassment.

For various reasons, I can't say much about the actual case and anyway, we kept on getting thrown out so we wouldn't see the ugly spectacle of "legal arguments" by the lawyers. Why can't they just get along?

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