Monday, July 26, 2010

new jury

Getting to the court is a breeze, I just get my usual bus but stay on for two more stages. this trial is at the high court, I havn't been here before. It is a grand old building (built in the 1800's) on one side, a late 20th C building on the other, connected by a glass roof over the old courtyard. The jury assembly room is half full when I arrive, give my name to the clerk and sit. (No checking that we are who we say we are, guess no one tries to infiltrate a jury) the room fills up and we are shown a DVD of court proceedure. the staff are all very reassuring, they know that for each of us it is all new. The names of people present are in a octaginal box on a spindle, the clerk gives it a spin, opens the door on it and calls out a name, that person gets a card indicating which courtroom they are to go to. I'm one of 40 selected for courtroom 1. We are told that we are lucky, it is the original courtroom, not much used these days but trials are still in progress in other courtrooms. We form a long crocodile after the clerk to a magnificent room, a little like a victorian church, and as cold as charity. We sit at the back of the room and the octaginal box is spun again to select the jury. As names are called people walk slowly to the jury box while the lawyers frantically look at their papers for info on these potential jurors. 3 older pakeha men are challenged and I'm called 12th and last, not challenged.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

12 jurors or is that 13?

The 12 of us jurors are sent out to this very cold, bare room to decide who is to be foreman. Having learnt from before, I wait for someone else to start talking. One of us introduces himself and the rest follow.. then wait...most of us have been on juries before, nobody wants to be pushy, we will be together for weeks. A young bloke volunteers and we agree happily. Then one young woman says that she has a placement due in the next couple of weeks, if she doesn't go her graduation will be postponed for 6 months. Several of us say she must ask the judge if she can be excused, it is unreasonable for her life to be on hold for so long. We all troop back into the courtroom and she talks to the judge briefly, he does excuse her. Fortunately the remainder of the jury pool is still there. Another juror is balloted and because we are technically a new jury we go back to the little room, confirm our choice of foreman and return to the courtroom. We are then dismissed for the rest of the day and the next, unit a more modern and comfortable courtroom is available.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2nd jury

Two, maybe three years ago I was on another jury. The 12 of us sat in the room off the courtroom to decide who was to be foreman. We all sat there like bumps on a log until I asked who had been on a jury before, who had chaired a meeting. Mumbled replies, then I was nominated chair! The trial was a sexual violation case, not too terrible as such things go. We reached a unanimous verdict. At the start of deliberations I asked that we didn't express opinions on guilt or otherwise until we had collectively looked at discrepancies with the evidence. this took some time but we arrived at an unanimous verdict of guilty. I was quite nervous standing up in courtroom at the end, announcing our verdict.

request to attend

I've received a jury summons in the post. This is my 4th, and I've been on 2 juries. The first jury that I sat on was a bit of a disaster. A woman was caught smuggling drugs into the country. several kilos were hidden in the lining of her enormous suitcase. The question that we faced was did she know that they were there? Unfortunately some of the jury had decided before they heard the evidece that she was guilty and some had decided that she was innocent. We could not reach a verdict. the judge declared a hung jury, we were released and I STILL don't know if she was an incredibly naive dupe or an unlucky courier, I suspect the latter.

In this blog about jury service, I will not mention any names or give identifying information about the trial.