To serve or not to serve, that is the question

Received a letter from the NSW government dated May 30, informing me that I had been included on the jury roll from June 2024 to June 2025. In a subsequent, hard-on-the-heels, letter dated June 4, I was told that I had been randomly selected for jury duty for a trial of 12 weeks in estimated length. And that I am required to attend at 9:00 AM on July 2.

Now what to do? Will I try to get out of it, without lying of course? I will certainly try to persuade the powers that be that a shorter trial would be more conducive to my current living arrangements and plans. Apparently, I can discuss this with the “officer in charge” on July 2.

I am torn because of my jaundiced view about the degree of common sense of the man and woman in the street these days. The election of Kylie Tink in my North Sydney electorate didn’t instil me with confidence in my fellow voters. The George Pell trial convinced me that you can more easily round up twelve dimwits than I imagined. And then, of course there was the enthusiasm many people expressed for the grotesque over-reaction to the relatively mild disease (unless you were aged and ill) called (obviously frighteningly) Covid 19.

I also have in mind my experience as foreman of jury back in the early to middle 1980s. I forget the precise year, say, 1983. We came collegiately to the right decision I am sure of that but one or two comments during our deliberations threw me. Also there seemed to be discomfort among a few around the concept of beyond reasonable doubt. Now reasonable doubt can’t be defined. It is a concept which is steeped in our Christian culture. Better to let a guilty person go free than convict an innocent person. You either have the experience and common sense to get your mind around it or you don’t. I fear that since 1983, the ability of people to get their minds around it will have almost certainly declined. Which brings me to my point.

I shouldn’t complain about ill-based verdicts in jury trials – Pell and also Trump, not to mention Lindy Chamberlain and Pauline Hanson – if I am not prepared to serve when called. Just not for 12 weeks, I hope. And, of course, writing for this site and for Quadrant and the-pipeline (conservative sites) might put one or other lawyer off, depending I suppose on the kind of trial it is. Or, one or other lawyer might just not find me amenable. That’s out of my hands. And I could walk away with a clear conscience.

By the way, I know it is a civic duty and all that, but $106.30 per day for a 6 to 8 hour day is well below the national minimum wage of $23.23 per hour. I wonder when it was last changed. Nobody speaks for jurymen and women so their compensation languishes while lawyers and judges get untold riches. Yet, at the end of the day, our very freedom depends on the good sense of twelve good men and true (and women). At that point, the lawyers and judges are mere bystanders.

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June 22, 2024 7:53 pm

I cannot recall the last time I was notified for jury duty, but I do know that I was only employed casually at the time and finding it challenging to make ends meet. I was curious about the process, and did feel guilty about declining, but chose self-preservation instead. ‘I contribute to my community in other ways’ I told myself, which was true, but not of course in the same context.
(A cynical thought flashed past: What if we could perform jury duty at home, watching a screen, and then simply click ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’?).

June 22, 2024 9:57 pm

randomly selected for jury duty for a trial of 12 weeks in estimated length

Such trials rarely ever last that long.

I could write an entire guest post about the perils of jury duty.

The legal system in this country should hope that I do not.

June 23, 2024 7:21 am

Please serve.
Because our enemies all happily turn up, they turn up at the Council meetings, at the Party meetings, at the parent committee meetings etc, all to our detriment. We have to turn up, or disappear.

June 23, 2024 5:47 pm

Now what to do? Will I try to get out of it, without lying of course?

As long as they can’t catch you in a lie why would you care about lying to the authorities? They lie to us all the time.

June 24, 2024 7:35 am

I was called up for the 1st time last year .. Got onto my local member and asked, “How desperate are they wanting a 75 years old OAP”? ..
Week later got a letter back saying I’d been excused ………

Zulu Kilo Two Alpha
Zulu Kilo Two Alpha
June 24, 2024 8:59 am

The advise I was given was to turn up in your best suit, and beg, borrow or steal a unit or regimental tie. Defence counsel doesn’t like ex – servicemen on a jury – they tend to believe the accused must be guilty or he/she wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.

June 24, 2024 9:59 am

In Queensland, self employed is a valid let out, as is being over 70.

Simple Simon
Simple Simon
June 24, 2024 12:50 pm

The George Pell trial convinced me that you can more easily round up twelve dimwits than I imagined.

The rounding up of dimwits is made much easier when those on the right-hand side of the distribution use their wits to avoid serving.

As hzhousewife correctly said, by not turning up we aid the decline and takeover that we wish to avoid.

As you yourself wrote:

I shouldn’t complain about ill-based verdicts in jury trials – Pell and also Trump, not to mention Lindy Chamberlain and Pauline Hanson – if I am not prepared to serve when called.

History (and society) is made by those who turn up.

Never underestimate the effect that one good man can have or the ripples that it may set in motion.

As Solzhenitsyn wrote in Live not by Lies:

We are approaching the brink; already a universal spiritual demise is upon us; a physical one is about to flare up and engulf us and our children, while we continue to smile sheepishly and babble: “But what can we do to stop it? We haven’t the strength.”…But we can do—everything!—even if we comfort and lie to ourselves that this is not so. It is not “they” who are guilty of everything, but we ourselves, only we!

June 24, 2024 2:30 pm

I’ve just got the letter saying I am the potential juror list (Qld – Maroochydore Court). But only for 2 weeks in the middle of August

Rococo Liberal
Rococo Liberal
June 24, 2024 4:42 pm

I’m a solicitor, so I can’t be selected for jury duty. And therein lies the problem. Because lawyers don’t get to see what goes on in the jury room, they don’t realise how much the common sense and civic understanding amongst the populace has declined. However, if one has read the Victorian Court of Appeal decision in Pell, one knows that the same fate has befalled judges too.

My wife has been called up twice in 5 years. The furst time she was a three day trail of someone accused of dealing drugs. The evidence was clear that the bloke was guilty, but two bleeding-heart, middle class women of the sort who are ruining the Western world through pathalogical altruism, would not vote to convict because it would be unfair to send the bloke to prison just for drugs.

My wife as the forewoman of the jury had to tell the judge that the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. The bloke then had to be tried again. WHat a waste of resources.

On the second occasion my wife was supposedly called up for a 6 week trial. But the trial didn’t take place on the day appointed so she was excused.

That may happen to you.

June 24, 2024 7:18 pm

tricky …

got a letter

June 24, 2024 11:05 pm

When I turned up for jury duty some years back I discovered that they routinely call in more people than they are likely to need just in case

I was dismissed with thanks before I got anywhere near a courtroom

H B Bear
H B Bear
June 24, 2024 11:47 pm

A bit off topic but my sister got summoned as a witness to an assault she witnessed while I was a patient in a less salubrious part of Perth than we both call home. Travelled to the far northern suburbs Magistrates Court and the bloke didn’t turn up. As far as I know she never heard from them again.

June 25, 2024 7:23 am

Called up to do my civic duty nearly thirty years ago.
Eventually made it into a courtroom, but the ensuing farce probably earned me a lifetime pass.

Peter Greagg
Peter Greagg
June 25, 2024 3:43 pm

You could claim to be a lawyer, as Rococo Liberal has pointed out that being a lawyer exempts you from service.

But I assume your beliefs (based my my reading of a lot of your posts here and elsewhere) wouldn’t allow you to do so.

BTW, not sure what has happened to to colour of my font?

June 26, 2024 11:29 am

I’ve received a notification three times, twice while getting my degree (education being a valid reason for declining in Victoria) and once in my current job employed in a small business (also a valid exemption). Notwithstanding the civic-duty angle, my Dad’s experience of being ensconced on a trial involving union heavies has tipped the balance in favour of declining up to now.

Sancho Panzer
Sancho Panzer
June 27, 2024 10:21 am

Two things out of the chatter upthread about VER (Very Expensive Rail).
Firstly (noting that I am proud to say I am largely ignorant of the black art of logistics) why the need for double decker container wagons? Surely that is going to cost a motza in elevated bridges etc.
Secondly, as was pointed out, it isn’t “Melbourne to Brisbane”. It is regional Victoria to SE Queensland. I was terribly afraid “Trucks vs Trains” would erupt again but so far, all quiet on that front.

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