My Day In Court

Canada
September 17, 2008 2:43am CST
Back approximately six months ago or even longer, I received a form in the mail, about possible jury duty. It was just a basic form, requiring a minimum of personal information. This form 'had' to be returned by a certain date. I sent it back, and then forgot all about it. Fast forward to late August, and I received 'a summons to juror' the very day I was to leave for a week's vacation. This summons stated that I was to appear at the courthouse, on Monday September 15th at 9:00 a.m. as a member of a jury selection panel. There were very few reasons for being excused, and they had to be submitted in writing, to be reviewed by a judge. I arrived at the courthouse (early) having no idea what to expect. I must say I was nervous, as I've never done anything like this before. All of the potential jurors (at least 150), were ushered into an assembly room. We were shown a twenty minute video on the process of jury selection. We then waited to be taken into the actual courtroom. As it turned out, they were selecting one jury (of 12) for a criminal case, that day. The names of all potential jurors, were literally placed in a drum, and fifteen people were selected to begin with. They lined up at the front of the courtroom, and each one took their turn at the mike. The judge asked them if there was any reason they weren't able to serve. Many people had one excuse or another, and 'she' did dismiss some of them. For those who said they could serve, they were asked to face the defense lawyer, the defendant, and the Crown Attorney (the same as the DA in the US). They had to look directly at each other, from a very close range. I found this to be nerve wracking just to watch. The defense, and the Crown, then took alternate turns, stating if they wanted the individual in question to be a member of the jury. The case being tried was for aggravated assault, by the way, the defendant being a young man. If the person was approved, the defense or the Crown would state 'content.' If not they'd say 'challenge,' and that person wouldn't be a part of the jury. Both the defense, and the Crown, would have to be in agreement. Once a juror was approved, they were sworn in, and took their seat in the jury box. There were quite a few 'challenges,' so new groups of people kept being drawn at random, and the same procedure followed. Finally they agreed on the twelve. My name wasn't drawn, so I now have to return, and go through the whole process again next Monday. We're required (here in Ontario) to make three such appearances. Then if we're not selected for a jury, we're dismissed, and it's treated as though we've served. I had no idea how any of this actually worked. It really is fascinating to watch, albeit nerve wracking (for me) because of my involvement. Do you know how jury selection works in your country? Have you ever received any type of letter, summons etc., regarding this? Have you actually served on a jury, or do you know of somebody that has? Do you get paid for being a juror? Does your country have trials by jury?
1 person likes this
6 responses
• United States
22 Sep 08
Oh my goodness, it sounds sorta of like they do in the USA. I was picked to sit on a jury once. It was a civil case where a lady was suing a store because one of their workers ran into her with a shopping cart. It was totally bogus and I voted against it. For a civil case you have to have a quorum and not the whole jury has to agree. The old woman said she could not longer ride her horse because she was bumped by a basket. Well the jury voted in her favor and gave her 25,000 dollars for a bruise in the back. She was 66 and the it was her daughter who wanted the money. They got the doctor up there to lie for her. I will never trust this guy he is still in town. One of the reasons they gave the old woman the money because the thought was "its a big store and they can afford it." Don't people know if the store is sued it trickles down to more expensive groceries? The jury selection is kind of the same we all meet at a certain time in a big room, then you are called by random to sit in the jury box to be asked questions. You have to introduce yourself, and give a working history and family history. They also ask if you know about the case of the defendant. I myself have not been selected for a criminal jury. They ask you when you are selected if you have served before and if you have a lot of the times you are dismissed. I feel that it is our duty to be on a jury even thou it is a hardship for some.
• Canada
29 Sep 08
Hi teapotmom, Thanks for sharing how things work in the US. The civil case you were on does sound interesting. I didn't get to see how civil cases work, but there were three juries chosen, for criminal cases. I came very close to getting on the second one, but didn't make it. The lady standing to my right, was the last juror chosen for this one.
@gabs8513 (48716)
• United Kingdom
20 Sep 08
Well I never knew that is how it gets done I hope I never have to go through that process lol as I would be a wreck I just could not do it
1 person likes this
• Canada
21 Sep 08
Hi gabs, Yes, this is how it's done here in Canada. I'm not sure if it's done the same way, where you are. I have to go back for my 'second time' on Monday. We're required to go up to three times here, if we're not actually placed on a jury. I felt very anxious, once we were taken into the courtroom. I kept wondering if my name would be called. It's great to see you here, and thanks so much. Hugs.
@4mymak (1796)
• Malaysia
19 Sep 08
My country does not practice trials by jury... being ruled by England before we gained our independence 51 years ago... we are following the 'British format'.. i do find being a jury such a heavy, heavy responsibility... i am quite thankful that we dont that system in this country.. i fear that my decision would be a 'wrong' one...
1 person likes this
• Canada
21 Sep 08
Hi 4mymak, That's very interesting. I'd never really thought about which countries have jury trials, before now. I'm assuming those on trial just appear before a judge then? You're right, being on a jury is a very big responsibility, and I'm still not sure what's going to happen (yet) where I'm concerned. I have to go back for the second time, on Monday. Thanks for sharing. Take care.
@vera5d (4006)
• United States
17 Sep 08
i have never been summoned for jury duty, part of this is i think because i move so darn often no one can keep track of what county i live in! (i'm hoping to move again by next year!) i'm sure eventually one day i'll get stuck with it, personally i think it seems like a waste and not really sure if it actually provides justice or not, people are so slanted in beliefs sometimes...
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• Canada
29 Sep 08
I ended up going to court two times, and on the second day my name was drawn. I came very close to being chosen, as the lady on my right was the last juror to be selected. It was for a criminal case, and there were two armed policemen in the courtroom, guarding the defendant. He was a very intimidating looking young man, and I'm glad I didn't have to serve on this one. There doesn't seem to be a good way for justice to be served, as these things are all very complicated. Thanks for your response.
@DonnaLawson (4032)
• United States
17 Sep 08
I was picked for jury duty but due to medical reasons that prevented me from serving, I didn't have to serve, but I had to get written statements from my doctors or I wouldn't have been able to get out of it.. A few years after that My husband was picked, he was sick at the time, he had been diagnosed by his doctor with pneumonia the very day before having to appear before the jury panel.. He explained that he had pneumonia and was hoping to be excluded but they told him that he would have to go through the process anyway, pneumonia would exclude him from serving.. So even though he was as sick as a dog, he had to go everyday to the courthouse and wait to see if he was chosen to serve that day, this went on for a week and he wasn't picked to serve on jury duty but he was getting sicker and sicker by the day.. I believe for this treatment, he was paid $12.00 a day plus parking fees.. I thought that was a horrible way to treat someone, almost communistic.. He did have a doctors statement showing that he had pneumonia, but it didin't help at all..
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Sep 08
Hi Donna Lawson, We're able to be exempted due to serious medical reasons as well. I'm glad you didn't have to serve, but it's horrible what they did to your husband. Even with a doctor's letter! I seriously hope they wouldn't turn a deaf ear to this type of thing 'here.' They really have no excuse for this, as I'm sure your husband must have appeared very ill. I mean, he'd be coughing etc., so how could they do this? Disgusting. Thanks so much for your response.
• Philippines
17 Sep 08
hi. so that's how it works, huh? it's just like how it is in books. =) where i come from we don't have jury duty. court trials are solely dependent on the decision of the judge. both prosecutor and defendant plead their case to the judge. in Canada, if one doesn't do his jury duty, is there a civil sanction? like, what happens when you don't appear after being summoned? and as you mentioned you have to appear 3x before being dismissed. i've always been fascinated with things like this. but am not saying it's fascinating that you were nervous as hell. it's just that the system is impressive. =)
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Sep 08
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back here. As of now, my jury duty is over, and I only had to go two times, as it turned out. I 'almost' made it onto a jury, the second day I went. I'm actually glad I didn't, as it was a criminal case, and there were even armed policemen in the courtroom guarding the defendant. Very nerve wracking. To answer your question, if you just decide not to report to the courthouse, there are penalties for sure. I know one of them is a fine, but I'm not sure how much a person has to pay, or what other penalties there are. Thanks for sharing.