I reported for jury duty this morning at the John Sopinka Court House in Hamilton. I was one of about 60 members of the jury pool for one of two trials – one criminal, and one civil. We were told to be there by 9:30, and were told at that time that they usually get started around 10:00. Well, we sat until about 12:15 (good thing I had brought my Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book, of which I read about 300 pages), at which point were shuffled into the court room to start jury selection for the criminal trial. First they got rid of people who knew the accused, or the complainant, or the lawyers, or any of the witnesses, then people who had vacations planned, or medical conditions, or other reasons why they couldn’t be jurors. I had none, so I just sat quietly.
Eventually, they started calling people to be on the jury. They called 20 people, and I was about the 8th. One by one, we were brought up to face the accused, and the lawyers could either accept us onto the jury (“content”) or “challenge” us, in which case we would sit down again, to rejoin the jury pool for the civil trial. I was accepted by both lawyers, so I became juror #4. We then broke for lunch, and the actual trial started around 2:45.
I’m not allowed to discuss the case outside of the jury room, so I’ll just say that it’s an aggravated assault case that took place about a year and a half ago. I’ll post some more details once the trial’s over, if I’m allowed. The trial is estimated to be about 3-4 days. Lucky for me that I was accepted into this jury — the civil trial is estimated to be 6-8 weeks. Then again, I have two pre-paid vacations booked (OK, well, we haven’t paid for Tyrolean yet, but we’re booked) for that time period, so I probably would have been excused anyway.
Anyway, it’s been interesting so far. We start around 10am, get a 15-minute break around 11:30, then lunch at 1:15 to 2:15, then another break around 3:30, then we’re done around 4:30. We will only need to be sequestered during deliberations, otherwise we can go out for lunch and come home at night and stuff, and we don’t need to stay together. I’m getting a good look at the legal system — moreso than the last couple of times I was in a courtroom. Last time was earlier this year when I fought a ticket for running a red light – the cop forgot his notebook and the case was thrown out. The other time was during 2nd year university when I had to face the serious offence of violating the Retail Business and Holidays Act — the drug store I worked in during high school was open on a Sunday back when Sunday shopping was illegal. I was charged along with all the other employees, but the charges were supposed to be dropped when the store paid its fine. The crown attorney screwed up and forgot to drop the charges, and we all had to appear in court a couple of years later (during finals in 2A), at which time the charges were immediately dropped.