Summonsed!

‘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.

Meanwhile this 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…..

.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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14 Responses to Summonsed!

  1. I imagine it to be tedious (unless you get Judge John deed)! I hope you will be able to tell some of the stories, even without the details. I studied law in my first year at university and have always wondered what might have happened if I had continued with it?

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    • Mags court was tedious when it was just TWOCs and other boring driving offences. Some of the burglaries could be funny though, and at times everyone (lawyers, JPs, reporters) struggled not to smile/laugh. And some of the crims were totally likeable.

      Crown Court was different though. Trying to think what cases I did, rape? murder? but the one that sticks in my mind was a GBH one involving a local police officer – who got off on charges of GBH.

      The only way I could/would really tell the stories is if I went and sat in the court, and I’m not sure I want to do that for free for a blog post πŸ˜€

      You could have been in charge of contracts for dustbins instead of organising rosters?

      Like

  2. I was called for jury duty once, but made the mistake of answering the question about what TV shows I liked honestly. I was a big “Law and Order” fan back then. That one got me sent home. I think lawyers prefer jurors to be less interested in justice, and much more pliable.

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  3. Vicky says:

    Couldn’t partner claim he’s not been given the four weeks notice?
    Or, as Sparks has mentioned claim to be an avid TV show law and order fan.

    I’ve never been called for jury service, nor has anyone I know, but I guess the UK has a lot more folk to tap into than Gib .

    Like

    • They’d probably send another letter out telling him to come in four weeks time. Might as well get it out of the way.

      Bit difficult if he got asked any questions about it though – us being TV-less and all that πŸ˜€

      Apparently they use a new list every two years here in Gib so you wonder if the people at the bottom of the alphabet never get called. I was a bit surprised to discover they have FOUR supreme courtrooms here. Most places I went to often only had one or two. Leeds had more of course, and more still after it was extended. It was a journalists nightmare finding which courtroom you were meant to be in for your particular case.

      Like

  4. EllaDee says:

    I’m glad you decided not to study and practice law. Partner didn’t mention corporate law… I think of my work colleagues and would hate to see you assimilated with them.
    No, the selection process doesn’t make sense.
    A year or so ago I made the jury duty list and was called 3 times, each time having to show up, go through a morning of rigmarole to be excused as I was too busy at my role within a ‘critical’ govt project… So many people told me they’d appreciate the ‘honour’ & ‘challenge’ of jury duty, and others have the time. Why not put them at the top of the list, and when they’ve been exhausted then come to me, who has neither the time or interest.

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    • Oddly enough one of my school competitors friends, who became a journalist for the same company as I did, later chucked it and went into law, as I discovered when I was doing the usual internet search to see what had happened to people. I nearly studied it, became a journalist, she became a journalist and then chose law. Odd.

      On the letter from the court, you can apparently ask your employer to send a letter if your absence causes a problem at work. And in 99.9% of cases (that is the stat they actually quoted), your application will be rejected.

      I am sure your last words would strike a chord with partner, he currently does have the time, but absolutely no interest. I’m not sure disinterested people are the right ones to choose – or maybe they are? We’ll see. I could be living with a bear with a sore head for a couple of weeks.

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      • EllaDee says:

        I think as a late entry so to speak, going into law, maybe ok, but as a grad or junior there’s a good chance of getting chewed up & spat out…
        No go on getting a letter of excuse… policy apparently (& maybe they know it’s pointless?) and getting sign-off would be a nightmare, so had to front each time. Yes, well, I’m disinterested and they had no problem with calling me up 3 times… Good luck with it πŸ™‚

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        • Yeah but if you had hung in there, think of the bucks you ‘might’ have made πŸ˜‰ I fact I was surprised that a senior partner, ie part owner of a local firm was on similar money to me when I was a health services manager. It’s something of a fallacy that all lawyers earn lots of money. But you will know better than me, although I don’t think Sydney legal firms are going to be comparable with provincial ones.

          Then you did well to escape πŸ˜€ I think Partner is getting resigned to two weeks of boredom. And I am looking forward to doing lots of blogging useful things in his absence.

          Like

  5. bluonthemove says:

    Can you get whatever channel ‘Judge Judy’ is on, its ITV in the UK I believe. I don’t watch it myself. Saying partner is an avid fan of that is bound to get him off !!

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  6. Iquitoz says:

    This year, after a four or five year hiatus, both my wife and I were called for jury duty Sep and Nov respective. Wife asked for and received a four week delay and I accepted the date. The night before we were requested to report we had to check, via computer, if we were needed. Luckily both of us were excused from jury duty. Perhaps they did not like my Hang’em High attitude. πŸ˜‰ Here the jury pool is created from voter registration rolls, telephone books, utility bill info, driver license lists among other sources. I have served twice. Young driver caught speeding. Guilty. And prisoner accusing penitentiary guards violating his civil rights. No.

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    • That’s interesting. I think the UK term is theoretically every five years, but neither of us were ever called. Here it can be every two years! Cool to be able to check via internet if you need to go.

      Without knowing the details, that’s pretty much how I would have voted too. There’s a surprise πŸ˜‰

      Like

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