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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Serving as a juror

Around 200,000 people perform jury service each year – all of them selected entirely at random from the electoral register to perform this important role. Knowing what to expect should help you feel confident if you are called as a juror. You can watch an online video to see what will happen.

The selection and purpose of a jury

Juries are used because it is recognised that a panel of ordinary people, chosen at random, is the best way to ensure a fair trial. The 12 jury members represent a cross-section of society and all jurors are asked to take an unbiased approach to the case. This means remaining open-minded, using common sense and applying their own life experiences so that a fair trial can take place. You do not need any knowledge of the law.

What happens if you are selected for jury service

jurors have an important role in the court process

If you are randomly selected by computer to serve on a jury, you will receive a letter called a ‘Jury Summons’. This tells you which court you have been summoned to attend (where you will do your jury service) and the date and time on which your service will begin. Jurors usually have nine weeks between the Summons letter arriving and their first day in court.

The letter also provides details for the Jury Central Summoning Bureau, which you can contact with any queries you have about jury service at that point. The rest of the letter is a form to fill in, which is your reply to the Jury Summons. It allows you to give the Jury Central Summoning Bureau any additional information about yourself.

What you must do after receiving your Jury Summons letter

get an email reminder of your jury service date

You must reply to your Jury Summons within seven days of receiving it. It is recognised that there will be certain times where it isn’t possible for a person to serve at the time they have been summoned. If you think there is a reason you can’t serve, you will still need to reply to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau and ask to be ‘deferred’ (so that you can serve at a later date) or ‘excused’ from jury service altogether. The reasons you might be deferred or excused, and how to apply for deferral or excusal, are provided on your reply form.

Once you have replied to your Jury Summons, you will receive a confirmation pack from the Jury Central Summoning Bureau. This contains further information you will need, including how to get to the court and what to expect once you’re there.

You can also sign up online for an email reminder of your jury service. The reminder will be sent to you five days before the start of your jury service. Follow the link below to sign up.

Find out more about what will happen - watch the online DVD

courts can seem frightening: watch the DVD for the real picture

Your summons tells you that you are legally required to serve, which can make some people anxious. Don't be worried by this: once people get over their initial concerns, they usually find jury service interesting and rewarding.

If you do have worries or doubts about what jury service involves - perhaps from something you have read or seen on television - you can watch an online DVD which explains everything you will need to know at court.

The 20-minute film, 'Your Role as a Juror', outlines what is expected of you as a juror. It is shown to every new juror in the country on their first day of jury service. All the information in it applies to all jurors, no matter which Crown Court they are in. The film shows everything from the basics of what you will need to know when you are at court, to delivering the verdict and beyond. It’s an opportunity to find out more ahead of your first day in court.

When the film is shown to you again at court, you will also be given a talk from a member of the court’s own jury team – this will include information for the specific court where you are serving.

Follow the link below to watch the online DVD – it can be watched in either English or Welsh.

Further questions and arranging a pre-court visit

If you still have worries after watching the DVD, or if you have a disability or special needs, it may be possible to arrange a pre-court visit. To do this, you should contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau or the Jury Manager of the court where you have been summoned. Contact details for the court are on the Local Information Leaflet that you will receive in your confirmation pack, or you can use the CourtFinder link below. The jury team in the court you serve at will also be available to answer any questions that you have.

Contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau

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