Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jury 'no-shows' guilty as charged

As citizens, we cannot decide to simply wash our hands of our part in the justice system, writes Emer O'Kelly

ALIST of cases due for hearing at Ennis Circuit Court in Co Clare has been adjourned to March 21. No gaps in books of evidence; no applications for bench warrants against defendants who jumped bail; no rats infesting the courthouse. Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds adjourned the cases on Tuesday because she was unable to empanel a jury: 250 people had been called to the day's panel for jury service, but only 35 turned up.

So Judge Reynolds cancelled an entire week of work scheduled for her court. That, presumably, will cost the taxpayer a fair swathe of money, even before you consider the cavalier lack of respect being shown by those who didn't show up for the justice system.

New laws were introduced last year to compel those called for jury service to turn up on the designated day. Prior to the legislation, jurors who were not formally excused but who failed to turn up could be summarily fined €50. But the penalty was seldom imposed.

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