Jury Service … is over!

On Monday I had arrived at Woolwich County Court by 9.00am and then underwent a very simple induction procedure. I then sat in the Jurors’ Lounge until I was called down to a court with fifteen other jurors. Twelve were selected at random and then sat in the jury box before being sworn in one at a time. I was not amongst the selected jurors and I returned to the Lounge in time for lunch.

Later that day I was called down to a different court, and this time I was selected and became Juror No. 11 for the duration of the trial. Once we were sworn in, the judge gave us a brief outline of the nature of the trial (the charges and its likely duration) and the prosecution then read out the names of the witnesses that were going to be called so that if we recognised anyone we could notify the judge. The prosecution and defence barristers made their opening remarks, after which we were dismissed for the rest of the day.

On Tuesday we were late starting as legal arguments were taking place in the courtroom. When we finally went to the courtroom, the prosecution barrister began presenting his case. A statement of facts that had been agreed by both the prosecution and the defence was then read out, and then the prosecution called their witnesses. These were a detective inspector and a forensic expert. The defence barrister did not cross-examine either of the prosecution witnesses and at that point we were dismissed for the day.

Proceedings started at just after 10.00am on Wednesday, and began with a second charge being added to the indictment. Once the nature of this charge was explained to us, the defendant going into the witness box. He was then questioned at length by his barrister, after which he was cross-examined by the prosecutor. With interruptions and breaks, this took up most of the day, and there was only just sufficient time left for the prosecuting barrister to sum up the case against the defendant before we were sent home.

On Thursday morning the defence barrister made his summing up remarks, after which the judge reiterated the role of the jury and summarised the relevant law and evidence that had been presented. He did this in a very balanced way, emphasising that we were the abiturs of the truth. The jury bailiff was then sworn in and escorted us to the jury room so that we could begin our deliberations. These lasted over lunch, and by 2.30pm we had come to a verdict. We trooped back to the court, where our foreperson delivered our verdicts on the two charges. … which was guilty on both counts. We were then thanked by the judge, and sent back to the Jurors’ Lounge after the defendant’s previous convictions were read out and a date set for the sentencing to take place.

Once back in the Lounge, the jury manager collected in our expense claim forms … and then told us that we would not be needed for the rest of our expected fortnight of jury service as Easter was approaching and they had sufficient jurors to cover the trials that were already booked in.

Yipee! My jury service was over … and it is unlikely that I will be called upon again before I reach the upper age limit.

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Autor: Robert (Bob) Cordery / Wargaming Miscellany

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