Receiving a summons for jury service means your name has been randomly selected from everyone on the electoral register who is between the ages of 18 and 70. I found this out when I received a summons not long ago. I also discovered that this is just one of a series of random processes throughout the whole experience.
What Happens on Jury Duty?
I didn’t know what to expect but I did think it would be an interesting experience, and surely I’d get to attend at least one court hearing. Substitute “interesting” for “frustrating” or “wearisome,” and that most aptly describes my stint at jury service. But I expect it could be rewarding too, depending on the luck of the draw. After all, as was described in the induction: this is one of the most important civic duties we can perform.
I never got any further than the jurors’ lounge where there were around fifty other people. After the induction we had to sit and wait. Books, magazines and jigsaws were supplied to keep us occupied if we wished to use them. There was even knitting should anyone want to knit squares that would go to a Charity.
How People are Selected to be on a Jury
For the first panel, eighteen names were called out. These people went down to court and six came back. How were these names chosen? Why did some come back? When a court is about to begin, a computer will select around eighteen names and these people will be called to court. But it doesn’t stop there. There is yet another random selection that takes place before the court case. Cards with names on are shuffled and names chosen. Questions are asked at this stage such as whether potential jurors’ recognize any names read out before the case. Twelve people are chosen to serve on the jury. The others have to return to the jurors’ lounge.
Lunchtime arrived and we were allowed outside for an hour. (It was like being back at school, restricted in where we could go and what we could do.) There were two more courts started in the afternoon, and again, eighteen people were called down for each case and six came back.
The above describes a typical day for those who, like me, might spend a fortnight waiting in the lounge, doing very little, and never getting to see the inside of a court. All depends on the random selections that take place more or less every day as jurors are chosen. Those who were seemed to enjoy the experience, and appeared to feel they were there for a purpose, as opposed to others who just sat around doing nothing … or knitting squares!