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Hello!

Gwennan Rees

 
What To Expect From Jury Service.

What To Expect From Jury Service.

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So you've been called for jury service. 

This happened to me just after Easter this year, I took the bundle of letter off the postman and the top one had Her Majesty's Prisons & Courts symbol on it and I just knew. I turned it over praying it wasn't for me and whadda ya know - it was. I was summoned for a fortnights jury service in Cardiff in the last fortnight of June and it terrified me from the moment I opened the letter. 

It's a nerve wracking thing. Most people you speak to will either say they wish they could do it or that they'd hate to but I didn't know anyone that actually had. I think the scariest part for me wasn't even the idea of what trial I might have but actually just the fear of the unknown. The letter you get sent with your summons is very formal and very brief, just giving you an outline of your summons and what forms you had to fill in next. 

So from a young person who has recently done the biggest service you can as a British civilian; here's what to expect after you've received your summons. 


Before your court date;

- The initial letter.

The initial letter is very brief. It gives you your summons (both English and Welsh in my case) so for example mine said Cardiff Crown Court, June 19th - 30th. The letter also includes a form you need to fill in and send back to the jury system, a letter for you to keep yourself to take on your first day and also a letter explaining why you can't get out of it. 

Jury service is notoriously difficult to get out of and I feel like it's only getting stricter. Your employer can't refuse you time off and it's unpaid leave from work so you'll be able to claim loss of income up to a certain amount. If you have a busy period at work and your employer can't let you off you can agree to postpone it to a later date. If you have a holiday booked or a wedding or a commitment you can't get out of you can agree to do it at a later date. You cannot just get out of it altogether unless you have exceptional circumstances. 

When deciding if you can accept your jury summons, or if you need to appeal to do it at a different time it's worth considering that some trials go on for longer than the usual fortnight. The courts take no responsibility for if that happens so for example if you accept your summons and then book a holiday for the third week and the trial overruns, you cannot go on your holiday and you'll have no compensation for your loss or cancellation. 

The initial letter is very simple and the form is really easy to fill in and send back freepost. 

- Your confirmation. 

After you've sent your acceptance off you'll get a letter with your confirmation, thanking you and giving you a booklet with more information, plus guidelines on your specific court. Mine included a piece of paper showing me where the court was in Cardiff and which entrance was the jurors and also gave details on the facilities provided (mine included no wifi but an on site canteen). The booklet you're provided with is generic and is sent to everyone and is a more in depth piece of information about the process, designed to alleviate any nerves you have. 

I won't go too into the details of the booklet because it does a good job of explaining most of the process. It includes details on your expenses (you get a food and transport allowance), how to claim loss of earnings for your job, what evidence to provide if you're self employed, what to take with you on your first day and what the fortnight is likely to entail. At this point you don't need to contact the court again on the most part and you just turn up on the first day at the date and time they've told you. 

- Research. 

I tried to do as much research as I could before my jury service because I was nervous and thought that armed with information I would at least know I was prepared. Actually I found that online there was very little more information than I could get from the booklet itself which is the whole point of writing this post but I did what I could. I tried googling the actual court I was going to which might be of help to you because it came up with a jurors forum type chat where people posted tips like the easiest bus to drop you off outside or the nearest station etc. 

- How to prepare. 

Now this is totally dependant on your life and your lifestyle and how it's going to be affected by jury service. For me it was reasonably simple for the most part because it is just me it was going to affect. I am my niece's childcare two days a week but she was easily palmed off on my Mum who I look after her with on the most part but if you've got kids you'll need to consider childcare for potentially over a fortnight and if they're in school you'd need to think about how to get them there and who would pick them up. Court generally sits from around 10am - 4pm but this changes day to day depending on your case and your judge so don't assume you can get them in on time every day you're sitting. 

The one thing I did do was to put my shop on holiday and say I wouldn't be shipping any orders until after jury service had finished and I also tried to schedule content for my blog, knowing I wouldn't be able to work for the fortnight. 

I also went into Cardiff a few weeks before I was due in court to see exactly where it was and more importantly, where the jurors entrance is. Jurors are kept away from the public for obvious reasons and often your entrance won't be obvious, and certainly won't be the big grand one at the front of the building. If you're unsure it's well worth going down beforehand just to have a little snoop to alleviate any first day nerves. I also can't recommend doing a trial run a week before you need to go to court to sort out your transport. My nearest train station is 15 minutes down the road and I went there on a Monday morning at the right time exactly a week before I was due on service and realised it was a bloody nightmare. I was stuck in the town for ages in school traffic and then when I got to the station I realised there were no spaces, and not only no spaces in the carpark, I mean every street in the town was FULL to the brim of commuters and I knew there was no chance I could risk not getting a space, or driving round for 20 minutes and being late for court. In the end I opted to drive 25 minutes to the station nearest my Mum's which had a huge empty free carpark and travelling from there but I was so pleased I'd done a trial run rather than risk it on the first day. 

- What to take. 

Your first day is unlike any other day you're on jury service and you feel so much better when it's done knowing a bit more about the procedure. For the first day I can't really give any better advice than to take as much with you as you think you need. I wasn't sure what the catering facilities would be like so I took a packed lunch, I took multiple bottles of water because it was that cheeky 34 degrees heatwave we had back in June, I took a jacket in case it was cold in the room, I took magazines, bullet journal, spare phone chargers, pens, headache tablets, spare tights in case mine laddered....you name it I took it because I just don't think you can be prepared enough when you don't know what you're going into. By the second day my bag was half empty but for that first day it's best to take a lot. 

I'd recommend;

Something to do (like a book or kindle), water, snacks, mints, tissues, spare pens and all the info you were sent with your summons. You HAVE to take your summons form and a form of ID so don't forget those. 


During jury service;

- How to dress. 

It says in your booklet to dress appropriately and comfortably as you'll be sitting around for the majority of the time. I took jury service in a heatwave so by the second day everyone was in shorts and flip flops and vvvv casual because there was no air con in the court but we started off very smart. Most of the men wore suits for the first day and most of the women wore shirts and skirts or dresses or a smart pair of trousers and a blouse. I'd say on your first day you want to feel confident so for me I wore my ultimate power suit and then got more casual as time went on. Err on the side of caution and avoid jeans first off and see how the rest of the jurors dress and the formality of the court. I stayed reasonably smart every day as it just felt more appropriate for me personally but comfort is key as you really are sitting down a lot. 

- Transport.

The court system really tries to push public transport and if you want to take your car and park locally you either have to risk it and pay parking yourself or ask for special permission from the court before you attend. If you turn up on the first day and buy a weekly parking ticket without prior permission the chances are your court won't pay out. They much prefer you get public transport and to buy your tickets daily as for example some days you might not sit in court for some reason or your trial might end early and they won't pay you for days you don't attend, even if you already paid. You are given a folder at the beginning of your jury service in which you put all your transport tickets so make sure you retain them if you're on a bus or train - do not let it get sucked in by the barriers! I asked the rail worker at my local station if I could keep the ticket for expenses and they'd buzz me through every day no questions asked. The times you sit in court vary day to day so don't book a specific train, some days I was out by lunch time and some days I had a late start, just go with the flow. 

With your transport and food expenses unless you ask by prior permission to have an allowance ahead of time you have to spend out before you get the money back so if getting hold of that cash is difficult for you then you need to speak to the court. I had to spend £70.00 on transport whilst I was sitting plus food so it can really add up. 

- Your first day. 

Your first day is the one unusual day of the whole court process and whilst nerve wracking at first you very quickly become accustomed to it because they really do give you ALL the information you need. Make sure you turn up on time if not early (I walked in and was promptly met with a fire alarm and we all had to leave again) and find your jurors entrance. Every day you're in the courts you'll have to go through a security buzzer like in an airport and have your bag searched so if you have things like knitting needles in your handbag make sure the security know. I buzzed every day for my watch and it became a running joke between me and the security team every morning. 

You'll be directed to the jurors waiting room which is like a big common room at school and there you'll be greeted by one if not more of the jurors team. There are staff dedicated simply to looking after you and their role extends from the legalities like all your formal information and calling you to trial to answering any questions you might have and dealing with your expenses. You will spend a good hour if not more of the first morning going through all the information you'll need like what to do if you're running late (phone ASAP), what to do if you're sick, what happens when you're called to court, where the emergency exits are etc etc. They pretty much cover everything you'll want to ask and they also give you time to ask questions too. There's also a video you have to watch explaining the actual legal process and tries to alleviate any fears you have. During this time you'll also have some forms to fill in for example any loss of earnings forms for work, how you're travelling to and from court, your bank details for your expenses claims and your emergency contacts as phones are prohibited in court should someone need to get hold of your loved ones. 

I can't recommend taking a notebook enough, I had my bullet journal with me and it was a god send. Simply writing everything down makes you feel more in control in quite an odd environment but things like writing down the names and numbers of the jurors team means you can pass it on to your family or childcare etc should somebody need to get in touch with you urgently and also things like the code to let yourself into the jurors room which is often protected to avoid you speaking to anyone. 

- The jurors waiting room. 

The jurors waiting room is the room you'll spend your time in until you're called for a trial. I can't explain it any better than a school common room, it's normally a big room with loads of chairs in and a TV, coffee and tea facilities, toilets and often the jurors canteen if your court provides one. The idea is that jurors shouldn't speak to anyone else in court so all your facilities should be with you. Remember when you're there on your first week there'll be people there on their second week and when you're on your second week there'll be newbies so there's actually loads of you. I think there was 90 odd when I was there so you can always find someone to talk to should you want to or a quiet space alone should you not. 

- Waiting around. 

I actually experienced 15 minutes of this in the jurors waiting room. I was the first name called for the first trial and I went and sat on it immediately and it lasted the whole duration of my fortnight there. The courts system is very random and there's no chance you'll definitely get a trial at all whereas some might have multiple during their fortnight. I knew people on the same fortnight as me who waited a whole week before they were called for anything but you cannot leave until you're dismissed by the jurors team so waiting around is a skill you need to master very very quickly. In the jurors waiting room you're allowed your phone, ipad etc so if there's wifi you could blog, watch TV through your headphones, do work, draw, knit, write, read....you need a lot to occupy yourself assuming you'll be there for a long time. I didn't read a single page of my magazine the whole time I was there. 

- Being called for trial. 

Having done jury service I can now see just how random and fair the system is. Depending on how big your court is you could have hundreds of first weekers heading into jury service with you, all randomly selected from a big ol' computer system in London and sent their letters just like you. When a trial is ready to go in the courtrooms of your court the judge will request a certain number of jurors be sent down and the jurors team puts that number into the system and the system turns up the amount of names, randomly selected from the jurors there on that day. For example, for my trial they judge requested 24 jurors be sent down and guess who's name the computer pulled up first? Ya gal here. The jurors team will come in and announce the people called or in our case just read them out over a tannoy and you're all requested to go to a jurors area which you'll be shown on your first day (ours was literally a corridor). 

When you're all waiting in the designated point or room the court usher will come and collect you and take all your names to make sure you're there (it's a very school like vibe). He or she will then take you to the court you'll be sitting in and you'll be requested to sit together in the public gallery. Then the judge will ask the defendant or defendants to stand up in the dock and show themselves to you in case any of you know them and then will give you a brief outline of the case without giving away too many details. In some cases, like in ours, the judge will also request that anyone in contact with a specific organisation eg local police, local authorities, hospitals, children's charities etc be removed. At this point if you know anyone involved in the case or if you're in contact with any of the specified organisations you are asked to raise your hand and explain to the usher the connection and they'll pass it on to the judge who will more than likely thank you and dismiss you. You then won't have to sit on that trial. There are only 12 jurors on each jury and the reason the judge might ask for 24 like in my case is they'll be expecting people having connections, especially if it's a very local case so I think by the time people were dismissed on our case there were only about 16 or 18 of us left eligible. 

This would also be the time to tell the judge if you'd feel unable to sit on a particular case. I had a very harrowing and traumatic case that involved very graphic images and details that would have been very triggering to a lot of people. You can't get out of a case just because you think you don't want to hear it or it might be horrible but if you think it's going to be triggering this is the time to mention it. 

Once all the people with connections have been dismissed the court clerk will have all your jurors numbers and names on cards and will randomly shuffle the deck and pick 12 cards, literally like shuffling and picking playing cards so it's as random as it can be. There's no requirement for an equal number or sexes or age ranges, it really as is random as it possibly can be. You can get all this way and not be picked as one of the 12 and be sent back upstairs for another trial but if you are called you get up and fill up the benches one next to the other and from then on you'll be referred to as your seat number (eg I was juror 2).  

 

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During the trial;

- Swearing the oath. 

This is one thing I was super nervous about. Once the 12 jurors are seated the rest are dismissed and sent back to the jurors waiting room and the trial can begin. There are lots of formalities before the trial starts like swearing in the ushers, the clerk etc, introducing the barristers to the jury and the jurors swearing the oath. Each jury member has to swear the oath out loud and you can either take a religious one or not. Everyone on my jury either took the non religious oath or took one on the Bible but if you need another religious book they'll provide that for you. You essentially pass the book along the bench and either you place one hand on it and read the religious oath off the card provided or pass it along the bench if you're taking the non religious oath, which you simply read off the card. I was really nervous about it because I hate public speaking but it takes like 10 seconds if that and it's all written down for you and nobody cares if you stumble. 

- The jurors room. 

Each court has a room for it's jurors which only you can go in. Each room normally contains a big table, 12 chairs, a locker, a water dispenser and two toilets, it's pretty basic but it's your room and that's where you'll head instead of the jurors waiting room. It's also safe and locked when you're in court in most courts so you can leave your bags, umbrellas, coats etc in there which is peace of mind cos nobody wants to be the one who's phone goes off in the trial. 

- Behaviour in court. 

Basically, you do nothing but listen. Even with a very distressing case I found a lot of it to be very very tedious and that's just because of the formal way in which a case is done. For example, if there is a transcript of a police interview done on tape you'll often not listen to the tape but instead will have the print out in front of you plus two people in court eg the barrister and a witness might read the transcript word for word. It's a very elongated process and whilst all very important information, that information might be read to you 3 or 4 times which led a lot of us to holding our eyes open (literally). The jury's part in the court case is to listen to all the information provided and make a judgement and you are provided with a folder, paper and a pen so if you want to take notes of important points then do. I didn't actually take any notes as I felt like I took it all in and found that to still be true 8 days later when the trial ended. 

In court you need to remain professional and appropriate. You can't speak, you can't be disruptive - you can actually do very little. We weren't allowed to take in sweets to suck on or gum unless they were throat sweets you were given prior permission to take and we couldn't use our own bottled water, instead you share from a glass pitcher with paper cups between 6 of you. The ushers will direct you on how to ask to leave the room or go to the toilet which is essentially just catching their eye (they're always looking out for you) and motioning them and they'll escort you out to make sure you don't talk to someone. Court tends to sit for a 2 hours in the morning with a 10 or 15 minute break, an hour for lunch somewhere around midday and a 2 or 3 hour session in the afternoon with another 10 or 15 minute break so there's plenty of time out and none of us ever needed to leave before we were asked to. 

- Distressing cases. 

I obviously don't want to talk about the ins and outs of my case even though it's now public knowledge and got some coverage in the press but I kept saying "aside from murder I think I've got the worst case you can have" and actually after the trial I decided a murder might have been better as in some cases, having the victim there in front of you in the witness stand is even more distressing. Having a harrowing case or a high profile one can really take it's toll on your head and the courts offer counselling and people you can talk to if you need them. It's really drummed into you all the way through the trial that you cannot speak to anyone about the case and if you do you can be fined thousands and can be sentenced to jail time yourself. Apart from the obvious dangers of leaking information about the case I think you put yourself in a position by sharing information that others will have a point of view on. You can tell someone what's happening but they weren't in court, they didn't hear the evidence and they might share an opinion that puts a seed of thought into your mind that you didn't have otherwise and that makes you tainted as a juror. You've taken an oath to try the defendant fairly and that really resonated with me and I tried to do the best job I could so I didn't share any details with my family and friends, instead opting to simply say it was a very traumatic case so they knew what sort of head space I was in. You can't help but take it home with you and for the whole fortnight it consumed me, especially with a weekend break in the middle so if you can plan nice things to take your mind off it then do, but remember it's a very taxing fortnight and I for one just came home, ate and slept every night. 

In some cases as well as hearing distressing content you might have to see it too. Some cases might involve CCTV or film in which distressing things occur but for example in my case we were presented with photos that were very triggering. You will have to look at some photos which you might find upsetting but in many cases the legal teams will agree to show you only a certain severity and then have the rest described to you, as a way of showing you the evidence but not making you look at the worst. Each image or piece of footage is graded by severity and the highest grades will in most cases not be shown to you. 

- Legalities. 

As well as the oath (and legal) not speaking about the case to anyone there's also a few legalities jurors can be found in contempt of, for example not disclosing you know something about the case which can result in contempt of court and jail time for yourself. They also request you don't do any searching online about the case as press might sway your opinions and of course you're given names and addresses of people involved so any searching for them on Facebook or contacting people in the trial results in serious action. You also cannot contact any member of the jury outside court, no befriending them on Facebook and if you know a fellow juror you cannot serve on the same trial. I was on the same train as one of my fellow jurors and every morning we smiled hello and didn't speak until we got to court. 

As for legalities in the court, in most cases there is the judge, the clerk and the usher in the courts as well as a bailiff who'll sit in the box with the defendant. The defendant is the person or people who are on trial and the complainant is the person who has brought the trial to court or in lots of cases, the victim of the crime. Also present in court will be the prosecuting barrister and the defendants barrister and they'll often have people with them who type up the notes, pass questions, do research and bring the witnesses through. Cases will often have witnesses, for example police officers who dealt with the crime, the arrest or interviews, character witnesses like employers or friends, family, people the defendant or the complainant have spoken to, people who saw something happen or even the people involved in the trial themselves. It is not compulsory for the defendant or the complainant to take to the witness box or give evidence. 

Throughout the trial any legal jargon used will be explained to you and at the end of the trial the judge will give you a legal directive pack which explains exactly what has been put before you but if you have any questions you can pass a note to the usher and proceedings will be halted to help you. What I would say is get all of the things you've seen in films like "OBJECTION" out of your head because it really isn't like that. 

- Day to day. 

Day to day in court can be very similar or very different depending on the trials nature and the length of the case. Either way though the order in which things happen stays the same starting with the prosecutions initial speech followed by the evidence. The prosecutions evidence might be made up of anything from CCTV, police transcripts of interviews, police interview videos etc and in my case was made up of the latter which we watched in real time in full, a total of 4 hours over two days. After the evidence presented by the prosecution they will then call their witnesses which like mentioned above, could be anybody, can be several people and doesn't always have to include the complainant. In our case the prosecution witnesses took two full days. The prosecution will ask the witnesses to confirm who they are and each will have to sear an oath like the jury and then they'll answer a series of questions which they have already seen and prepared answers for with the prosecution team. Following that they will then be cross examined by the defence team who's purpose it is to poke holes in their stories and prove them out not to be credible witnesses - however, it is the jury's opinion on if they are reliable or not.

Once all the evidence and the witnesses have been called for the prosecution then it becomes the turn of the defence. Again, the defence will follow a very similar format as what has gone before them but obviously in this case will be convincing you of their clients innocence. They will give an initial speech and then will provide evidence to counter act the prosecutions, again that can be given in many forms. Following the evidence it will be the turn of the defence witnesses, again they may be many, which will be used to give alibis, give good character profiles or used to discredit the prosecution or the complainant. Again, the defendant doesn't have to take the stand to give evidence and in some cases they might choose not to or their legal teams might advise them against it, which can often be frustrating as jury member and it is mentioned in court that the defendant understands the jury would be able to reasonably conclude that if they don't give evidence then they might be guilty - which obviously isn't always the case. Also it's worth knowing the defendants legal team don't actually have to put up a defence at all and can hinge the whole case on the discrediting of the prosecutions argument. Remember it is innocent until proven guilty - it is the prosecutions job to convince you they are guilty not the defence's job to prove they didn't do it. 

Like I mentioned above, my court sitting hours varied day to day and that be for all manner of things - for example on my case a crucial witness was ill and couldn't speak so we were all sent home at 11am for them to recover and come in the next day. The judge will speak to the legal teams and they'll often know roughly how long things will last so often days can finish early at a natural break, like between witnesses or between the prosecution or the defence. 

When all the evidence has been heard and all the witnesses spoken to on both sides the judge will announce the end of the trial. This is where both barristers will do their summing up, something that can actually take a good hour or so each as they both go back over all the evidence and point out all the key facts you need to take into consideration. Following this, the judge will make his closing speech. They're objective is to remain impartial to you before you retire for your deliberations but they judge will again make a long speech pointing out pieces of evidence you need to consider or things they have noticed and noted down. 

- Retiring. 

Retiring is the term given when the trial is over and the jury are sent to the jurors room to discuss, deliberate and come up with a verdict. At the end of the day you 12 people are in charge and it is your decision and your decision only that counts. Before you retire the judge will explain to you the process and provide you with all the information you need. You will likely be given a legal package which will be a document outlining the charge or charges the defendant is faced with that you might find them guilty or not guilty of (for example there were 12 charges in my case). This will outline the legal jargon and also tell you what laws it is they are accused of breaking. You will also likely be given a legal directive which goes through charge by charge and tells you what pieces of evidence it relates to, what parts of a witness statement it refers to and what questions you must ask yourself in order to give a guilty or not guilty verdict. This is probably the most helpful and important pieces of paperwork you'll be given throughout the whole trial. 

Once you have retired you are not permitted to leave the jurors room unless escorted for some fresh air to make sure you're not speaking to anyone. You are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone, your phones will be locked away by the usher and they will leave the room. If any of you leave the room for a break or for the toilet you must all stop discussing the trial, all 12 must be present at all times during deliberations. The judge will often know roughly when you'll retire so they will advise you the day before to bring lunch or snacks if you wish and to prepare yourself for retirement. If you haven't got a packed lunch with you but your court has a canteen the usher will come in at lunchtime and provide you with a menu and you can order from the canteen and pay them in cash and they'll bring the food to you. 

- Deliberations. 

The jury's retirement and deliberations can take as little or as long as it takes you to make a decision. We retired at 11am and by dinnertime at 12pm we thought we were pretty much set on verdicts for each charge. However, when we'd eaten our lunch and had more time to think about it a lot of us decided we weren't happy with some of the cases and we ended up deliberating well into the afternoon, finally finishing around 4pm. 

The deliberations for me were definitely the scariest idea beforehand and is the one bit you are legally bound never to discuss after the trial. I was one of only 3 young people on the jury and the only woman under 60 and I was afraid of lots of older man having strong opinions and trying to get me to change mine. I found when it came to it I was very much set in my own opinions and managed to voice them and not have my mind swayed.

The deliberations can be challenging, if some of you hold one opinion and some hold another or if 11 of you think one verdict and one of you thinks the other than it can be quite confrontational. The important thing to do is to not scream over everyone and to start with an initial vote. The judge will ask for a unanimous decision which is where all 12 of you agree on one verdict so if you start with a simple hands up for guilty hands up for not guilty you know what kind of ball park you're in. Following that it's important to give everyone a chance to speak, a chance to say why they might feel one particular way and then for others in the group to challenge that opinion but you must back it all up with evidence and facts. The one thing you cannot do is to give a verdict on a 'feeling' however much you might want to, it is a fact based system, circumstantial evidence doesn't sway and evidence is key. 

During your deliberations if you have a question to ask or something you're unsure on you can write a note which you pass to the usher outside the door and they will take it to the judge who will then call the trial back in, answer your question and then retire you again. 

- Verdict. 

Although the judge will initially ask for a unanimous decision, there are circumstances in which they can accept a majority vote. This is when for example 9 jurors vote one verdict in which case they have the majority and that verdict will be passed. However, it's never good to go into deliberations hoping you'll be offered a majority because for one, the judge can't always allow it and secondly, there's a time expense that you have to have deliberated for before that can be offered to you, a time limit you don't know about which is decided case by case.

However, if you've been deliberating for hours and cannot reach a unanimous verdict you can put a note through to the usher on the other side of the door saying so and the judge will call you back in. At this time they might be ale to offer you a majority verdict which they will have pre agreed with both legal teams and will offer you for example you could be offered a 10/2 majority. At this point you will be retired again to see if you can reach this majority and if you can you can pass a note to the usher and the the trial will be called back in for the verdict. 

Each jury has to appoint a foreman which isn't as scary as it sounds and is essentially the person who has to stand up in court and read the verdicts. You can take a piece of paper in with you so for example you can write prompts to yourself so 'charge 1 - guilty', 'charge 2- not guilty' etc etc. The clerk will also stand and will read each charge to you in full legal jargon and then will ask "have you reached a unanimous verdict" to which you say yes and then they'll ask you the verdict to which you reply guilty or not guilty. If you haven't reached an unanimous verdict they'll ask did you reach the agreed majority to which you say yes and proceed with the verdict. 

Following the reading of the verdict a few things can happen. The judge will give a summary of how many charges the defendant has been found guilty of or acquitted of and then will more than likely do a speech. If the defendant has been found guilty of any other crimes which may relate to the case, which you wouldn't have been allowed to know about before, this is where you'll be informed of that. They will also likely then give their own personal opinion, especially if it is in agreement with your verdict and then will discuss sentencing with the legal teams if the defendant has been found guilty. This might take a little while and doesn't involve the jury but you'll have to sit through it whilst they find a sentencing court date they can all do with enough time for the judge to seek advice on what sentence to give. 

At the end of the trial the judge will thank you for your service and you will be allowed to opt out if you're called again in the next two years. You will then be able to go back to the jurors room where they'll get you to fill out some forms as feedback for the process whilst they decide if you can be dismissed from court. If you've been on a short trial they will most likely decide that you cannot be dismissed and you will go back to the jurors waiting room and could potentially sit on another trial. However in some cases, like mine, which was 8 days long and quite challenging they decided we had done our service so we didn't have to go back for the final two days. 

 


After your jury service;

- Press.

If your case has been quite high profile and has had some press coverage you might find it a little hard to escape and a little worrying. The press won't know any of your details and wouldn't be able to disclose or print who you were and equally, you cannot speak to the press and talk about being a juror. 

- Sentencing. 

Sentencing normally happens a few weeks after the trial is over which gives the judge enough time to seek legal advice before they make a decision. This might be because it's a very complex case, the sentencing isn't clear cut or that there's simply a lot of charges to be sentenced and added up before the final sentence is given. Jurors do not have to be present in court on the day of sentencing but you can be if you want to be and don't have to give prior notice, you can sit in the public gallery with anyone else who is there. If you don't want to be there but want to know what was sentenced you can phone up the court after sentencing with your jurors number and there'll inform you or you can wait for it to come out in the press if you think it's likely to get coverage. 

- Finances. 

When you initially start your jury service there'll be a form for you to fill in with your bank details so the courts can transfer you the money for your expenses. However, they can also post it via cheque to the address you provided them with and the money will take around a fortnight to come through. It should cover any loss of earnings you claimed plus your travel expenses as long as all the evidence (tickets etc) were provided and your food expenses too. If you don't receive your expenses or have a query with it you can contact the courts afterward. 

- Recovery. 

There's no escaping from the fact that whatever form of jury service you get, it's taxing on you. Whether you sit there for a fortnight bored stiff and don't get called to anything or you get called for multiple small trials or you do what I did and sit through one long traumatic one - it's a difficult fortnight and it completely removes you from your normal life. 

When the trial is done you can get around to recovering from it and easing back into normal life. You can now discuss the case and what went on in the courtroom with friends and family as it'll soon be public knowledge that anyone could access but you can never talk about the other jurors or what went on in deliberations. If you feel like you need to speak to a professional about the experience or what you heard in court then you have access to people through the court system if you ask or you can seek help yourself. 

Sleep as much as you can the night you finish, treat yourself to some good food and a drink of something you love and try and plan something nice straight after to take your mind off it (my friend invited me to see Justin Bieber 2 days after I finished in case you were wondering). 


Jury service is hard, it's taxing, it can be awful or it can be really interesting but having done it once, having seen how the system works, how random it is and how fair it is then I'd be much happier going into it a second time if I'm ever called. 

If you've been recently summoned to do your duty and you want to ask me anything more about it please don't hesitate to ask me, DM me on Twitter, drop me an email or leave me a comment and hopefully this post will leave you feeling a bit more prepared. 

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