One of the reasons (apart from general laziness) that I didn’t do Globlopomo is that I was called for Jury service for a month starting today. But I’m posting now because I got off.
I got as far as sitting in the jury box of a trial of someone for sexual assault. To my great relief, I was challenged, and excused. The way it works is that 25 or so prospective jurors are called in to hear the person being formally charged, and then the jury is chosen. Twelve jurors (by number, not name) are called out of a hat, and walk to the jury box. Then each barrister gets up to three challenges, and up to six jurors are replaced with further hat-drawing. The barristers choose their challenges based on looks alone.
When I heard those words, “sexual assault”, my heart sank. Everything I’ve read about sexual assault trials, even today, suggests that the best strategy is to debate the issue of “consent” by denigrating the woman involved. But as a juror, I would be required to bring a verdict, “beyond reasonable doubt”. The last trial I was on, the jury thought that the accused was more likely guilty than not. But the prosecution hadn’t proved it. If that happened in this one, I would find it hard to take, I think, knowing how few sexual assault trials lead to convinction, and how much a woman usually has to go through just to get to trial in the first place. But, it is the law, and a law that I was prepared to accept when the crime involved wasn’t such a crime against a woman’s core.
Anyway, the defence barrister chose the three most corporate looking women out of his seven options to challenge (I had taken the precaution of carrying the Financial Review, as well as wearing a trouser suit). Based on my own feelings, he chose wisely in my case. And I’m free for another year.