Tuesday 9 June 2009

Judges Out Of Touch? Surely Not...

A murder trial was postponed – because one of the jurors has tickets for the Glastonbury festival.

The case was stopped midway through the prosecution's opening speech at a cost of thousands of pounds to the taxpayer.
So why didn't he say this before...?

Turns out he did:
The juror had pleaded earlier to be excused but was refused by judge David Radford – until the full extent of his Glastonbury plans from June 24 to June 29 were revealed.
So the judge promptly critiscised him for not realising that judges aren't wise, after all:
'If you had elaborated a bit more on what going to Glastonbury entailed, I would have stood you down this morning,' judge Radford told the juror at Snaresbrook crown court, in north-east London.

'I think you perhaps pre-supposed a bit too much knowledge on my part. This is essentially a pre-booked holiday and you have organised to go with friends.'
Yes, unknown juror, you really did suppose too much there, when you expected a member of this country's justice system to have the slightest clue about life in the real world...


Anonymous said...

More the point is, surely, that if you're summoned for jury duty, you're summoned.

It should not be possible to get out of it with feeble excuses like holidays and weekend jollies. Duty is duty.

Sell the tickets, loser, and turn up to do your bit. Or it's the cells for you.

I wish.

Angry Exile said...

I'm with Anon. Since when did a music festival excuse you from jury duty? I was under the impression you needed genuine health issues, prior knowledge of the defendant, some personal reason that means you might not give a fair hearing, etc. But a fucking festival? I'm tempted to say that the judge must have balls like raisins but I wouldn't be surprised to find that the hoomanrites Act says he had no choice.

Mr Potarto said...

I think you two are confusing jurors with criminals. Do you really think a jury system that forces people to cancel paid-for family holidays would be an appropriate part of the justice system?

By all means force people to do their duty if they are attempting to avoid it completely, but if they have a long-standing prior engagement, why shouldn't they be excused from a particular trial during jury selection and moved to another which doesn't clash?

JuliaM said...

"It should not be possible to get out of it with feeble excuses like holidays and weekend jollies."

I think pre-booked holidays would have to be honoured, otherwise the Crown would have to compensate the potential juror, and that would very soon be abused beyond belief!

If, on the other hand, he booked it after receiving his callup, well, all bets would be off.

Umbongo said...

On balance and if that's the choice we get concerning occupiers of the bench, I'd prefer judges to be ignorant of Glastonbury (and all that "Glastonbury" entails in respect of over-hyped beat combos) rather than be "down wiv de kids".

JuliaM said...

Actually, I'm warming to judge David Radford, as this illustration from the recent trial of Mr Amy Winehouse is any indication:

"...Jeremy Dein QC, for Fielder-Civil, urged the judge to suspend his sentence or sentence him to the nine months he has already served. He said Fielder-Civil "was of exemplary good character".

He went on: "This has been a nightmare scenario, not just for him but for his wife and his family."

He was interrupted by Judge David Radford, who said: "No previous convictions rather than exemplary good character, if what I read about him and the use of drugs is true."..."

So, he does have some knowledge of the music scene!

Rob said...

Work isn't an excuse for evading jury service, so why should fucking Glastonbury?

Angry Exile said...

Mr Potarto, no, not confused at all. First, I never said I agreed with the system, just that I was under the impression that you'd need a better excuse to get out of jury service. Personally I dislike being potentially compelled to do jury service as much as I dislike being compelled to vote - I'd happily do either voluntarily but I object to the compulsory bit. However, my comment was about how things are rather than how I wish they were. Second, there's a big difference between a paid for family holiday and going to Glastonbury. Yes, he'd paid for the ticket but as Anon said he could sell it, or has the UK recession got so bad that you can't get back face value or more on a Glastonbury ticket anymore? If it was a booked and paid for family holiday or anything else that was basically impossible to sell or unreasonable to expect him to transfer then that would have been as good an excuse as bad health etc.

TheFatBigot said...

There are guidelines agreed by the Council of Circuit Judges about how they should approach releasing people from jury duty, so that things are pretty much the same all over the country rather than just leaving it to individual judges to form their own views.

Pre-booked holidays have been taken into account for many years because the financial cost and disruption to family life can be disproportionate when there are plenty more jurors who can hear the case.

I don't see why a judge should know what a trip to Glastonbury entails, I haven't the faintest idea and can't imagine why I should be presumed to know. I would guess some people treat it as a pilgrimage and others as a day out; but how much it costs and how many other people are affected must vary from case to case and would need to be explained.

Incidentally, I'm biased, I've known David Radford for decades. He's a lovely chap, perhaps sometimes afflicted with a bit of "Judgitis" (on which occasions his friends refer to him as Captain Mainwaring), but you couldn't meet anyone with a greater sense of fairness. The only question I raise about his judgment relates to his support for Manchester City.