Thursday, 22 November 2012

Doing my duty

Oh my word, I've been summonsed to go to court, what a shock. When I saw the return address on the back of the brown envelope this morning, 'Her Majesty's Courts Service', I thought oh heck, what have I done now. Have I done something naughty, break a speed limit, or drive through a red light perhaps. I hate getting official letters, me an honest citizen of the United Kingdom, I try my best to keep to the letter of the law. If I have inadvertantly crossed the line I am truly sorry, please let me off lightly and I promise never to do it again.

I tore open the top of the envelope and cautiously peered inside. Oooh look, a letter on pink paper with a pink heading, Jury Summons. Oh no, I don't want to do it. Boohoo, flippin heck, these things can get very complicated and take ages. I might get locked in the jury room with a lot of other people and not let out untill we arrive at a verdict. I might have to listen to a horrible and gory case full of blood and guts. I might get upset. I might want to go to the toilet in the middle of it, what will I do, put my hand up and asked to be excused. Oh dear.

I don't think I'm going to be able to get out of it, you can get into big trouble if you refuse to go without a valid excuse, or if you don't turn up. It's a £1,000 fine, yikes! I've got to fill the form out and send it back within seven days.

There's one good thing about it, although I can't claim for loss of earnings I can claim for travelling costs and a meal allowance. So if I take sandwiches I get to keep the money for my lunch, and I should make a few bob on the car allowance as it's a 70 mile round trip. If I have to attend for the full ten days I should have a bit of profit. My God, that's 700 miles, I could go to Scotland and back for that. Maybe not so good after all.

Anyway, it's not going to happen till the new year, plenty of time to get my head around it. Just had a thought, I might not have much to blog about while I am doing my duty, it's all got to be secret. Oh heck, I'd better start composing a few articles to fill the gaps, ha ha. Toodle pip. 

36 comments:

  1. Rather you than me. God Luck.
    Dianne - Hereford

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  2. Sorry that should be GOOD luck.
    Dianne

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  3. Having been called to do jury service twice, I can tell you the biggest problem is the waiting around and boredom. Take something to read. However, you do get to know your own group very quickly, so you might meet some interesting people (not the accused!).

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    1. Yes, I will find the waiting bit difficult, me being the sort of person who doesn't like to waste a minute.

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  4. If you are sequestered, you will still only drive 70 miles. Plus, they will feed you. You won't have access to the internet, so taking a good book or magazines will fill in time. For ten days you could be eating on the Queen's tab.

    I would enjoy the process.

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  5. I had to serve on a murder trial several years ago. It lasted 6 weeks and then we were sequestered for one night. It was quite the experience. I learnt way more than I ever wanted to know about drugs, gunshot residue and the 'seamier' side of life. Not exactly a pleasant experience but it was definitely mind boggling!

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    1. OMG, what will I do with the cats for six weeks?

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  6. You never know it might be an interesting experience. Hope it's nothing too upsetting though. Plus a free feed (take your own doggy bags..;)).

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  7. I have been called as well, starting 17 December.I can't drive, and Oxford is 25 miles away.Going to be real fun[not].I have done it before and it really is interesting, but not at this time of year.Good luck Ilona.xx Ann.

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    1. Hi Ann, let me know what it's like, not the actual case, obviously, just how you found it. Good luck.

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  8. I have NEVER been called for jury duty.It scares the life out of me.What if I made the wrong decision?
    Best of luck!
    Jane x

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    1. That is a worry, Jane. I know I will be turning it over in my mind for a long time afterwards, wondering if I said the right thing.

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  9. I've done it twice and as DaisyChain said above, it's dead boring, all that sitting around for hours stuck in one room waiting to be called. The second time I did it, my group never even got into a court room! Oh, except for when we'd been called to sit outside the court for half an hour, then the judge called us in, apologised for wasting our time, and discharged us all - that was on Tues of the second week, so we didn't have to do the full two weeks, thank goodness.

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  10. This is my area of work and can I say you'll be just the sort of person we'd want to see in the jury :-) its serious stuff ( as well as bring boring at times) and it shouldn't be forgotten that s someone's liberty is at stake as well as the trauma of the victims. Put yourself forward as Fore person :-)

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    1. I think I would rather not be in charge, but if everyone else refuses I might have to.

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  11. At least you will be the voice of reason and common sense.

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  12. I've never done jury service, although my ex was on a murder trial at Liverpool Crown Court. I have worked for the Police, Probation Service, Magistrates Court and also the Prison Service, so had lots of strange experiences, all from a different viewpoint.

    I would imagine you, being of the enquiring mind you are, will enjoy the experience and give a very balanced viewpoint of the situation.

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  13. When I got called I explained very nicely in my letter that although I was happy to attend I did not believe that prison serves any useful purpose.

    I was excused and have not been called again.

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    1. I'm surprised that that was a valid reason for not being a suitable candidate. After all, the jury is only responsible for coming to a verdict after hearing all the evidence, and is not responsible for the punishment metered out afterwards if found guilty.

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  14. My Mum got called for Jury Service and her 'team' were called into the court. However, when the defendant was called in, my Mum had to tell the foreman of the jury that the defendant was known to her. The judge asked her to leave! As is right of course. However, my mother was mortified that she had been thrown out.

    Janet

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  15. Ten years ago I was summoned for jury duty. The day before I was to go the court called to say that the case was proceeding by judge only. I was a huge 8 months pregnant at the time so I likely would have been the first cut.

    Might be an interesting experience for you.

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  16. I'd HATE to have to do it! Got called once many many years ago when the kids were little and was able to use that as a reason to be excused, so far never been called again, and hope that I never am either!

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  17. You shouldn't worry. (Useless advice possibly! If you're going to worry, you can't use it because you're going to worry). Nevertheless, you should try not to.

    You may have good reasons why you can't attend - pets or people to care for example. In which case say so and you may be excused.

    You might not actually be chosen on the day. If you are then you might find it boring - I had difficulty in staying awake at times! You are correct of course; it's not permitted for a juror to talk about the case let alone blog about it. There's a very good chance that you'll find it interesting though and you should rightly feel a sense of pride afterwards for having done your duty.

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  18. Hi Brian. There are a couple of things which worry me about it. The fact that I can't hear very well, even with a hearing aid it's not 100% I'm going to get another hearing test before the date, and possibly get an upgrade to my hearing aid. I will have to sit close to the action to pick it all up.

    Also I have an emotional disability when it comes to hearing or reading about animal cruelty. Basically I have to shield myself from it because it affects how I function. It plays on my mind for a long time afterwards. I am so distressed that I feel the pain of the animal. I know if I had to listen to a case of that nature I would be reduced to an emotional wreck, and the accused would not get a fair trial because I would immediately assume them guilty, and want them to feel the same pain that they inflicted on a defenceless animal.

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  19. Ilona, it may be possible to be excused on medical grounds for your hearing problems. Could be worth having a chat with your GP about that. I was called for jury service a few years ago but managed to get out of it as I was moving across country a month or so later - and they were very nice about it all too.

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  20. Must say, I do not envy you. Not a pleasant way to spend your retirement days, I would have thought.

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  21. Hi Ilona, I've been called for Jury Service a couple of times. I knew one of the witnesses on one of the cases so was excused. Was nervous about it though, the other times I wasn't selected, phew. Was a relief. Not had any requests for Jury Service for a good while thankfully. I hope that it goes ok for you if you do take the plunge. All the best, Christy.

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  22. I've never been called up for Jury Service, but I hope it all works out for you Ilona.

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  23. I dread the day I receive one of those letters. Up until now I have been lucky enough to escape the torture :)

    Good luck with it all, I hope you get an interesting case that has you enthralled with enthusiasm!

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  24. Here in the States you sit in the "pool" all day so take plenty to read and some knitting etc. I wrote all my Xmas cards last year - just hope and pray that you are dismissed eventually. They give you a set amount for travel etc - you dont have much choice by the way, you can get it deferred but eventually you have to serve if called.
    Just look on it as civil duty.........it is quite an experience.

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  25. I live in the States, too, and was called about 4 times, but never actually had to serve. One time they didn't have enough court officers, and the other times they settled out of court. (They weren't murder trials.) So you might just sit around for a few hours and get sent home. I agree, it's a big responsibility, and I was nervous thinking I might be deciding somebody's fate!
    Magatha

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  26. I served on a murder jury years ago and after showing us the gory photographs of the crime scene, which I tried my best not to look at (while appearing to look at them or I'd get in trouble lol) what do you think they gave us for lunch? Tomato soup!! It gave us a laugh. It's not a pleasant experience but its interesting I suppose. A side of our world we all don't want to see :(

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  27. I was called for jury service a few years ago but wasn't able to do it because of health reasons. I had to get a note from my GP to say why I couldn't do it. See your GP Ilona, if you have hearing problems you would surely be excused.

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  28. If you're not excused because of your hearing and looking after of pussycats then I'd look on it as another life experience. It may be interesting and it may give you time for reading and planning blog posts if there is no 'action' on the day. I think I'd be worried too but it could be something worthwhile to help other people.
    Love from Mum
    xx

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  29. I'm obviously odd (so my friends tell me!) I too was horrified some years back to receive the dreaded Jury service letter, and after many sleepless nights had to turn up to do my stint. I can honestly say I found it fascinating. Over the ten days I was called for three cases. The hardest thing is to decide upon ONLY the evidence and not your gut feelings. Go with an open mind Ilona, I hope you enjoy the experience too!
    Rose H

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