I think that I can talk about this

Posted: August 11, 2009 in Jury Duty

I think that I can talk about this, in general terms anyway. Last month I was required to do jury duty and was selected to be impaneled for a very infamous case. Whilst I can not go into specifics about what was discussed in the jury room or even to say which trial that I was a member of the jury for, there are a few things that I would like to get off my chest.

Firstly, after the trial was finished there were a number of media reports into the case. I can say that none of them were at all accurate. The media were barely in attendance in the courtroom and only appeared on the first day of the case, the day when the barristers summed up the case, and the day when the jury gave their verdict. They missed out on seven days of witnesses giving testimony yet still had the gall to say that they had been with the trail from the beginning. If that was the case then their reports of what happened in the case would be accurate and not just based on the testimony that was given on the first day.

Secondly, while I am glad that I have participated in the judicial system, most people don’t get this opportunity unless they have been arrested; it’s not something that I would want to do again soon. This was one of the most stressful tasks that I have ever undertaken. You would think that sitting on your butt all day just listening to witnesses testifying would be easy but it’s not. Every second while they are giving your testimony you are trying to not just listen to what they are saying, but analyzing the person to see whether they are a reliable witness or not, and trying to put together everything like a jigsaw to piece together what actually happened. Not only that, but a lot of the evidence can be quite gruesome and you can only be desensitized to it for so long.

Thirdly, for a little while after the trial I felt that our verdict may have let some people down. Both the defence and prosecution expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict but then they only have themselves to blame. The prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty of the most serious crime that he was charged with. He may have been guilty of the charge but in criminal trials the burden of proof is that they must prove that he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If it was a civil case, where someone is being sued, they would only have to prove that on the balance of probabilities that he was most likely guilty, as in civil cases the burden of proof is much lower.

The defence too should perhaps think themselves lucky that the defendant was found guilty of the lesser charge. In all probability he was probably guilty of the more serious crime, especially when you consider evidence that has since emerged since the trial that was suppressed by the judge because of certain inconsistencies. If that evidence had of been admissible then it would have been like a smoking gun, but a jury cannot give a verdict based on evidence presented after the verdict has been handed down. For whatever reason the judge decided that the evidence could not be used which the defence should be relieved about.

Finally I must say that financially being a juror is not worth it. Because I do shift work it meant that I missed out on a lot of my penalties that I normally get, whilst work expected me to give them the big cheque that I was given by the juries’ commission. Work even tried to claim the money that the juries’ commission paid me for my rostered days off work, when I had to attend the trial. (I suppose that I will see if they actually pay me for this or not tomorrow when my pay slip arrives.) In reality I should have just taken the time off as annual leave as I would then have received my normal pay, been able to keep the juries commission cheque and dramatically cut down on the massive amount of leave that I have accrued. I would also have received the 10% leave loading so I would have been better off than taking it as jury duty. Doh!

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