Jury Duty, Part 1

This is the first in a series of four blog posts about my experience of being called for jury duty in 2013.

Last month I was working from home one day, when I heard the postman drop off an unusually-loud stack of mail through our letterbox. Anticipating that one of them might have been a Graze box – and feeling the need for a little bit of a snack to keep my brain going – I wandered downstairs to take a look. There, among some other letters, I found a windowed envelope containing a pink letter: a Jury Summons.

My Jury Summons, showing my juror number and instructions on what a Jury Summons means. Parts are censored to protect my address and details that could make it possible for somebody to impersonate me as a juror.
For some reason, the Jury Central Summoning Bureau print their letters onto pink paper. It makes them stand out, I suppose.

Responses from people I’ve told about it have been mixed: some have been positive (“that sounds really interesting”); some have been negative (“isn’t there any way you can get out of it?”); others still have been curious (“you must tell us all about it!”). Personally, I’m pretty keen: it seems to me that jury duty’s an important civic duty, and I’m genuinely interested in the process. If it were a role that one volunteered for – and clearly it shouldn’t be, for reasons that ought to be obvious – then I’d volunteer for and give it a go, at least once: however, I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer for it now, when my work and life is so busy already!

Oxford Combined Courts: the Crown Court on the left, and the County Court on the right.
Looks like I’m going to get familiar with Oxford Crown Court. First question: where’s the nearest place to safely park my bike?

I’ve spoken to people who’ve done jury service before, and a reasonable number of them said that they found the experience boring. From the sounds of things, there’re liable to be extended periods of sitting around, waiting to be (possibly) assigned to a trial. On the up-side, though, it seems likely that I’ll be allowed to use a portable computer in the waiting area – though obviously not in the courtroom or jury areas – so I might at least be able to get a little work done and simultaneously stave off boredom during any period that I’m not assigned to a case.

A wider view of the Oxford Court buildings.
See: no cycle parking anywhere! They’re not completely cycle-hostile, though: they have offered to pay me 9.6p per mile for biking in each day.

It’s the people who’ve expressed an interest in the process for whom I’ve decided to blog about my experience. Of course, I won’t be able to share anything at all about any case I’m assigned to or about the other jurors who served on them, but I can certainly share my experience of being a juror. Perhaps if you’re called to a jury at some point, it’ll give you some idea what to expect.

2 replies to Jury Duty, Part 1

  1. Looking forward to reading this. I did my jury duty as a rather naive 20 year old, and found it to be a pretty eye-opening and depressing experience (it was a child sexual abuse case). I can’t remember much about the actual jury process now, just images and details of what was discussed in court, so it’ll be interesting to read your take on it.

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