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Your role and duties as a juror

Published: 
Monday, October 15, 2012
Law Made Simple

Jury service is an important civic duty. Jurors are required to give a verdict in criminal cases after considering evidence against an accused person. Criminal trials in the High Court cannot proceed without jurors. Who can be a juror? Every citizen between ages 18 and 65, and whose name is on the register of electors, can be called for jury service.

 

However, the law exempts certain people and disqualifies others from serving as jurors. The following people and their spouses are exempted from serving as jurors:
• Judges of the Supreme Court
• Members of Parliament
• Mayors and Deputy Mayors
• Magistrates and their clerks
• Justices of the Peace
• Attorneys-at-law and their clerks
• Officers of the courts of justice
• Members of the Police Service.

 

Other people not required to serve include:
• Officers and servants of the Post Office and Customs & Excise Department
• Ministers of religion, pilots licensed under the Pilotage Act, members of the air crew of any licensed airline service
• Practising doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians
• Individuals whose functions cannot be performed by another person or postponed e.g. heads of Government departments, chief executive officers, school teachers and university lecturers
• Those who have served on a jury within the last three years.
Also, you will be disqualified from jury service if you:
• Have been convicted or sentenced to imprisonment
• Are bankrupt, of unsound mind, or have a permanent physical disability.

 

Duty to serve
If you are called for jury service, you must attend court on the date and time indicated on your jury summons. If you fail to show you can be fined; if the fine is not paid you can be ordered to serve a term of imprisonment. If you are a person exempted, but you are still called for service, you should inform the court that you are a person exempted under the law.

 

If you are qualified to serve, but wish to be exempted, you must apply to the court stating your reasons for seeking exemption. The court may or may not grant your request. Once selected, jurors are usually required to serve for roughly one month or until the end of the trial.

 

Role of juror
The role of a juror in a criminal trial is different from that of the judge. The judge’s role is to ensure that the trial is conducted fairly and to direct you on the law as it relates to the particular case. You must accept whatever legal directions the judge gives you.

 

However, when it comes to the facts of the case, you the juror decide what and whose evidence you accept or reject. You are the sole judge of the facts, and at the end of the trial, you are required to give a verdict after considering all the evidence presented.
 

 

This column is not legal advice.
If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.

 

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