Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Trying Days in Downpatrick

Jury Service kicked back into life today after a slow start at the beginning of May (with a three week case that sent most of us in the 250-strong jury panel back to work while the remaining 12 did their work).

Today, we reconvened in Downpatrick (“historic Downpatrick” if this was a BBC news bulletin) for our jury panel.

After the jury panel roll call, the judge reminded us that making ourselves available to serve on a jury was one of the most important responsibilities of being a citizen. So the fourteen panellists who didn’t turn up to grace the court with their presence were fined £250. (That’s a big increase on the £25 that the absent received on the first day, but still short of maximum £1000 penalty.)

People seemed at lot more at ease with the whole jury service process today, dressed more casually and carrying newspapers. And there was a lot less fear about as some of us trooped downstairs to make our cases for days off etc from the court clerks. Given a decent reason backed up by letterhead, its straightforward to be excused for events and holidays outside of the court.

And so the tombola began. After a few minutes the clerk picked my number out, and with a few calls of “reject” and “standby” for those in the line ahead of me, I’ve ended up on a jury for a case starting tomorrow morning. The twelfth man. Sounds like the name of a film?

While I'll obviously not comment on the particulars of the case, I will continue to let you know of my adventures with the justice system.

The Courthouse isn’t anything special to look at, so I attach a picture of Down Cathedral instead, taken from the pavement outside the courts.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I used to live in that street. Historic English Street and the Mall, easily the worst place I've ever lived, sadly plagued by thugs, thieves and vandals. A few more of them need to appear in the courthouse or maybe the old gaol would be the place for them with some mouldy bread and water.