Summoned for Jury Service

I didn’t have to go to work yesterday. Why? I was summoned by the Victorian Juries Commissioner’s Office (which I’ll just refer to as JCO from here on) to appear at the County Court Victoria building in the city for Jury Service. Yes, I was called in for Jury duty.

When I was first informed by post that I was selected for Jury Service a few months ago, I was very excited about it. Back in the Philippines, we didn’t have Jury duty and so, I thought, this was going to be my first time ever to be in a Jury. Images of court room scenes from TV crime dramas flashed before my eyes. I know that most people would probably feel that being called for Jury Service was a big waste of time but I certainly didn’t feel that way when I got selected.

According to the JCO’s letter, they would send out a Jury Summons around three weeks before my Jury Service appointment. The original letter didn’t give an exact date but a date range of when my services would be required. If I remember correctly, they could summon me as late as mid-December. Come October, I was starting to hope to be summoned soon. I didn’t want to be summoned in mid-December and get empaneled in a trial that will run till January. I already have plans for the Christmas vacation.

I received the official Jury Summons from the JCO in mid-October stating that I was required to appear at the Melbourne Jury Pool Room of the County Court Victoria building at 9:15 am on Friday 4 November 2005. According to the Summons, I would be excused from work for the duration of my Jury Service. I would be paid by the JCO $36 per day for the first six days and $72 per day from day seven onwards with my company paying for the rest of my normal wage.

I went there a bit early to make sure I don’t get into any unwelcomed trouble. This is the courts we’re talking about here, after all. I went through a full-on security check then proceeded to the Jury Pool Room for further instructions. I showed them my Summons and ID, as instructed, and I got a ticket stub with my designated Panel Number and profession written on it.

The pool room was actually two rooms for the Jury pool (that’s us). There was a literal pool table, an easel for artists, phone jacks for laptop users who wanted to go online, lots of seats, lots of reading material and even a couple of jigsaw puzzles. They’re just making sure we don’t get too bored while waiting to be empaneled.

At about 10 am, we were all called to the main pool room area with the two overhead TV monitors. It was time for our orientation. The details of duties were explained to us as well as what to expect during the day. We were told that we should forget what we’ve watched on TV cop and law shows. It was nothing like those shows. For one, most law TV drama are made in the US and we’re using the British system here. The orientation talk ended with us watching a pre-recorded jury selection scene on the two TV’s.

There were seven cases (five criminal cases and two civil cases) to be tried that day. We were told to be prepared to be called when the any one of the seven trials was about to start. I prepared to be called any minute but the wait went from mere minutes to hours.

At around 12 noon, I was wondering if we would ever be called. Then we were called back to the main pool room for an announcement. Three of the seven cases were dismissed early. The defendant settled in one case; the defendant pleaded guilty in another; and we don’t know what actually happened with the third but it was out of the picture, nonetheless. So we were down to four cases that day.

The fourth case needed a jury though so twenty-four of us were randomly selected to appear before the court for jury selection. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t called. I say “unfortunately” because I was really looking forward to being selected as a juror to get a first hand experience of being in a jury. Ah, well.

After the selected twenty-four people were led out of the pool room, we were told to go for our lunch break which was supposed to be for only one hour but we were given an hour-and-a-half instead. Must’ve been a slow day.

I returned early because I didn’t have anywhere to go. I rather be reading in the pool room than wandering aimlessly around the city, anyway. Then, I waited there up to 3 pm before we were called in the main room again.

We were told that the remaining cases for various reasons didn’t need jury anymore. So, after we got our $36 cheques, we were all sent our merry way. And so endeth my Jury Service. I’m now exempted from being called for Jury Service for the next two years.

I wanted to blog about being selected for Jury Service for a long time now but I was a bit worried that posting about it might get me into trouble, legal or otherwise. So, I decided to just wait till I’ve finished my Jury Service before posting about it. Anyway, maybe next time I could be a juror in an actual trial (just as long as it’s not a case that involved Melbourne’s gangsters).

Published in: on November 5, 2005 at 8:14 pm  Comments (2)