Sunday 18 February 2018

Jury complains to judge over lunch and parking

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE jury at a circuit criminal court trial has written to the judge complaining about their lunch and having to pay for parking.

A note penned by them to Judge Carroll Moran is understood to have outlined their grievances.

Among the complaints was that they weren't offered tea or coffee after their meal at a local hotel, which is paid for by the State. The Irish Independent understands the complaint did not relate to the quality of the food served by the hotel.

The amount of money paid for the provision of lunches has been reduced significantly in recent years from €22 per person to just €12.50.

Before the cutbacks, jurors at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court enjoyed a three-course meal that included a choice of starter, main course and dessert, followed by tea or coffee. Now they receive a main course only.

The jurors' complaints received a public airing at the trial of two brothers accused of forging health insurance claim forms, when the defence barrister said he didn't want the jury to be tired.

On the opening day of the trial of solicitor Patrick Enright (52), of Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, and his brother Denis (48), the jury of nine men and three women were told the trial could last up to three weeks.

The brothers deny nine counts of forging New York Life Insurance claim forms amounting to a total of $31,850 (€24,373).

So far, a lot of time has been taken up with legal argument, during which the jury has to retire to a separate room within the court building.

The cheapest car park in Tralee is operated by the town council, which charges a daily rate of €3.

The Courts Services says because of the very difficult funding environment in public sector organisations and an estimated 88 extra weeks of circuit criminal court sittings, meals for jurors had to be capped at €12.50 per person.

A spokesman said: "It is appreciated that in some instances this may result in only a single main course being provided. However, it is our experience elsewhere that two courses are being provided for this amount."

The spokesman said, however, the Courts Service was of the view that €12.50 was "more than fair payment for a main course followed by tea or coffee".

He added that in view of the complaint, local management would be asked to reopen discussions with the hotel with a view to obtaining a minimum of two courses or, alternatively, to see whether another arrangement would be possible.

The spokesman said tea and coffee were provided in the jury room but it had no funding to pay for parking fees.

The trial resumes before Judge Moran next week.

Irish Independent

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