I finish my jury service with a heavy cold and a heavy heart. I’m convinced the twelve of us delivered the right verdict, but I can’t help feeling sympathy towards the young men who were convicted. Fifteen minutes of simmering anger, thirty seconds of violence, and suddenly the whole course of their lives changed. I hope they will find help to build a better future. Mr Drummond, whom we acquitted, appears to be doing so. I hope, too, that the victims of the attack won’t end up with mental scars even though their physical wounds have healed.
Able to discuss the case with my family at last, I give them chapter and verse.
“I can’t believe anyone was stupid enough to sell cocaine in a popular bar,” my son says.
“It was probably baking powder,” I tell him.
While I return to the jury lounge on Monday morning, I’m not selected for another case. My pleas of work pressures, supported by a helpful letter from my temporary employer’s HR manager, are enough to excuse me from the three month long trial beginning that week. I know an individual involved in the other long trial for which Andy is recruiting (a barrister, seeing as you ask!), and that bars me from serving on the jury. On Tuesday afternoon, I’m told I’m no longer required.
“Awesome,” my boss replies when I email to tell her I’ll be back at work next day.
I’m glad to have had experience of jury service, and not just because I’m a crime thriller writer. It’s given me confidence in British justice. Care was taken in court to ensure each side could present its arguments, unfailing courtesy was shown towards the defendants, and the judge patiently explained legal concepts as well as the evidence. Most of all, the jury worked as a team. We supported and listened to each other. Having been selected entirely at random, our diverse backgrounds were our strength. Each of the twelve brought different experiences and knowledge to bear when deciding the fate of those three young men in the dock – a serious matter, indeed.
My jury service took place a month ago. Read more about it here – I posted a blog every day this week:
Note – all names have been changed