Monday, March 15, 2010

Jury Duty Experience

I had to report for jury duty today. For some reason I thought that it was at 8:45am so I stuffed around a bit at home. When I checked the paperwork I noticed that I had to be at the District Law Court at 8:15. Whoops! Gulped down breakfast and dashed off to the bus stop. Decided against taking the bus that took the long way into the city because the next bus should be only five minutes behind it. OK, five minutes later I caught a bus that took a more direct route to the city. But the driver appeared to be stuck in second gear and in no hurry at all. Here's me feeling quite nervous and then I wondered, "What must the defendant be feeling if I am nervous?"

At the intersection on Adelaide Terrace a young lady asked me if I knew where the law courts were. She was heading that way too. I made it just before my allotted time. One of the guys at work was called up for jury duty and he explained that there were be about 300 people gathered into a room. Yep, pretty much spot on. We viewed a video regarding the court procedure and what to expect. It calmed the nerves somewhat. Then there was a bit of time whilst they conducted a ballot. A total of nine trials were set down for today.

As luck would have it I was chosen for the first case. There was a total of 52 of us from which to choose the jury of 12. The courtroom was a bit on the tiny side and not everyone had a seat. We had to wait for 15-20 minutes whilst the jury officer, the usher and the clerk of arraings explained a bit about what to expect and what the charges were. I guess that I can't tell you about the case in question but it was likely to take two weeks. Then the judge made his entry and we all bowed.

The clerk of the court then conducted another ballot for the 12 jurors. I was chosen as the fourth juror. It was a bit daunting at first and I studied the layout of the court, the bailiff, the judge, the usher, the clerk of the court, the prosecutor and the defence. There was no reason for me not to do my duty and I thought that this was it. No turning back now. Then the usher comes around with a bible, or an affirmation if you do not wish to swear by Almighty God, and each juror in turn takes the oath. When it came time to swear in the second juror the defence lawyer called out, "Challenge!" This means that he objects to having that person serve as a juror. No reason has to be given and the person returns to the public gallery and another juror is chosen by ballot and sworn in.

The usher approached me. Heart starting to pound. Breath a little bit short. As I started to rise the defence said, "Challenge!" I didn't take it to heart because it doesn't have to personal or even reasonable. Maybe it was my youthful ** cough cough ** looks making me look as though I didn't have the worldly experience necessary. Maybe it was my habit of being such a judgmental bastard. Or maybe it was the slight scowl on my face as I studied the defence lawyer as he looked like a right prick. That's the impression I got anyway.

No need for a fake swastika tattoo on the forehead to get out of jury duty. Mind you, I have to attend again tomorrow. There are a further four trials on the books. It wasn't quite, but almost felt like, winning lotto but realising that you haven't bought a ticket.

Interesting experience I must say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sock it to em Hammy!! That old movie "Jury Duty" is funny if you have not watched it yet. Annette