‘I don’t know what this crap is,’ he said, as he walked in, and chucked a couple of brown On Her Majesty’s Service envelopes at me.
Which, I translated to mean, you can open that crap and tell me.
I looked at the first one, and read the transparent window thing.
‘You’ve got a summons,’ I said freaking out wondering what we had to argue against now.
‘I can’t have,’ he replied logically, having done nothing criminal.
I opened it up.
You are hereby summoned to attend at the Supreme Court… blah blah… at 10 o’clock in the forenoon to serve as a juror ……
[forenoon?? what’s wrong with morning? whoever says forenoon?]
Much swearing followed for some considerable time.
From which you may gather that my partner has no desire to serve as a juror and tried to work out his excuses:
I’m thick (me: you will need proof of thickness)
I’ve got a hump on my back and clubfoot (me: you will need a doctor’s note)
I don’t want to do it (me: yeah right)
I can’t speak English (me: rolleyes)
etc etc etc
Now, personally I wouldn’t mind being a juror, but as someone who spent some years of her working life sitting in dusty courtrooms, it’s pretty familiar territory.
The Supreme Court in Gib is obviously the equivalent of a British Crown Court, either where bad cases get referred to because they can’t get tried in magistrates, or where people choose to go for trial by jury.
My dear readers will not be surprised to discover that I checked up on how the list of jurors is obtained.
It seems that it is obtained from the census and there is a separate page for each letter of the alphabet. Whoever sends out the invitations goes through each letter starting with the first name on the list for that page, and continuing through the alphabet. Then next time around, going for the second name down for each letter.
Does that make sense?
Now my partner and I do not have the same surname, because I didn’t change my name when I got married. You should all know that by now. But our surnames do begin with the same letter. But my surname should always precede his in the alphabet. So why did he get invited before me? Huh?
Answers on a postcard. I’m sure it’s not discrimination of any type whatsoever. Perhaps they are looking to balance the jury and want an unemployed man instead of an unemployed woman?
When my partner was an apprentice, the decorator he was training with was also called for jury service and he was away from work for two weeks. His wife, a headmistress, was never called in her life. My father was called and wriggled out of it. My mother was never called.
letter summons was dated 2 November. It was posted on the 11th, and arrived on the 14th. Less than two weeks away from the start of jury duty.
However on the government website, we are assured that potential jurors will get at least four weeks notice of jury duty. Really? I think not.
Letter to the Chief Justice in the offing? Or the Chief Executive of the Courts? Suggesting they either change the law, the website, or their somewhat tardy systems?
I think juries are a good idea. I wouldn’t want my fate to be decided by a couple of lawyers and a judge. At least you have more of a chance with a jury of 9/12/however many people.
Law is complex, and extremely tedious. There are a lot of factors to be taken into account that sway a jury, or even a bench of magistrates.
I once saw a fairly petty crime in Mags court where the dispute was about non-payment of a taxi-fare by a woman and threatening behaviour by the driver. She must have bought the solicitor from heaven who gave her such perfect advice. Her hair was impeccable, only a slight trace of make-up, discrete and quiet demeanour, a dark blue but soft suit, and a high-necked white blouse. How could she possibly have failed to pay her fare?
I have no idea whether the jury get told whether or not to disregard personal appearances, but there is no doubting they sway the opinion. Perhaps a good reason to keep defendants and witnesses behind screens? Jurors aren’t there to judge characters, people, their behaviour or their appearance, merely the evidence presented.
Is there any difference between 12 people arguing over alleged facts or one person, ie a judge, determining a result on their own?
I nearly studied law at university. I would probably have made more money on qualifying than I did in my hotch-potch career. Or maybe not. But what a strange system to be embroiled in.
When we were discussing it last night, my partner questioned how people could defend murderers, rapists, robbers, but it’s their job. Rather them than me. So maybe I didn’t make the wrong choice.
Sadly I won’t be able to recite the exciting cases he gets to hear – drug smuggling/dealing? GBH? I’m running out of ideas now as we don’t have a lot of violent crime in Gib. It may be boring old financial embezzlement, of which we do seem to have our fair share…..