When I was called for jury service earlier this year I blogged this and yes, I felt anxious about being on a jury as I'd never done it before. I Googled to read about other people's experiences so I knew a little of what to expect. Perhaps you're reading this because you've searched online for the same. I hope this account of my experience on jury service is interesting to anyone who reads it, for whatever reason. I've just finished two weeks of jury service in a London Crown Court and while I obviously can't blog about anything to do with the cases I sat on, I can write about the experience, so here we go.
You'll be sitting around a lot, waiting to be called to sit on a jury. Take plenty to read or music, etc. to keep your mind occupied as some days all you might do is sit and wait from 10am to late afternoon. Some people sat around waiting to be called for almost all of the 10 days. I worked my way through a novel and a half in the waiting time.
When (or if) you get called to sit on a jury, you're given a pencil and some paper to make notes if you want to. Listen carefully to all that's being said. Try to focus right from the start. The case will start as soon as the jury are sworn in, they don't give you any time to adjust to your surroundings. Once you sit down on the juror's bench, that's it, the legal case begins and you need to focus immediately. This is easier said than done because if you've never been into a court room before, it can be daunting.
During my 10 days on jury service, I sat on two very different cases, one which lasted four days and another which lasted just two days. That means I had four days when I wasn't in court and yes, you've guessed it, I had to sit around and wait in the juror's lounge. Fortunately the chairs were comfy and there was a canteen. The court staff are helpful and friendly. The ushers will guide you to the court room every day and look after their jury for their own court room.
Despite my initial feeling of being anxious about doing jury service, I can honestly say that it was the most interesting two weeks I've ever spent. And possibly the most grown-up thing I've ever done! A bond is formed between the group of 12 jurors as you spend so much time together, and it can be quite an intense, emotional experience depending on the type of case you're given (and on this, you have no say of course).
Now that I've done my first jury service, if I'm called again within the next two years I have the right to decline. However, I've enjoyed the experience so much, even though some of the evidence I had to sit through was unpleasant, that I'd definitely sign up to do it again.
Oh, and did I mention that there'll be a lot of waiting around...?