independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

No past or present bank employees allowed to serve

IF the forthcoming trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank executives runs as efficiently as the manner in which its jury was selected, it could last significantly shorter than the four months allocated.

Some 1,500 jury summons were issued in advance of next week's trial and 350 potential jurors turned up for jury service.

Judge Martin Nolan told the panel in the Criminal Courts of Justice that any past or present bank employees should not serve on the jury.

He also said anyone who has expressed "strong public views" on Anglo Irish Bank or anyone who owns shares in any bank should not serve.

The jury empanelment was completed within three hours and was notable for the fact that 131 – more than a third of the overall panel – people were excused by Judge Nolan.

One by one, the would-be jurors approached Judge Nolan's bench to whisper the reasons why they could not serve. One woman was excused because she worked in hedge funds, another worked in AIB and one owned 100 shares in the bank.

Another 19 people were challenged – 17 by the defence and two by the prosecution – and did not have to serve.

"There but for the Grace of God go I, eh?" quipped one unemployed man when a defence lawyer challenged his admission to the jury.

The first juror sworn in was a man who works in retail, followed by another who works for a pipe company. The occupation of the third juror, a woman, was not stated. The next jurors to be empanelled were an unemployed man, a Dublin Bus driver and a sales rep.

Two women, an office PA and a nurse, were selected after the third batch of potential jurors was called, followed by a man who works in hospital procurement.

One woman enquired of Judge Nolan if her job as a secretary to a trade union official debarred her. It did not.

And so it fell to three people, a male supply manager in a software company, another unemployed woman and a housewife to make up the first-ever 15 strong jury.

The potential perils of social media raised their head momentarily during the selection. At one stage the prosecution interrupted the swearing-in process to raise a concern about a post on the website Politics.ie.

The jury panel heard that the post read: "I've been chosen to be on a jury. I hope I get some time in a nice hotel. We all partied."

But the jurors said they did not post the remarks.

The trial begins next week.

Irish Independent

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