Jury Service

An Auckland man was sentenced to 10 days in jail for refusing to do jury service. He said he was too busy at work to be on a jury. He is a self-employed engineer.

The Minister of Courts said it was the duty of everybody in a democratic society to serve on a jury.

The man did not apply by letter earlier to postpone his jury service. He waited until he was chosen for the jury then he refused to take an oath. The trial could not continue that day as there were only 11 jurors. The judge said the man was in contempt of court, which means he did not obey the court rules. However, he is on bail at the moment because he will appeal this sentence.

Everybody who is between the ages of 18 and 65 can be called to serve on a jury. However, people suffering from a disability, or people who do not understand English well do not have to serve. Sometimes as employer can write to the court to say that the worker is needed at work. Parents who are looking after small children can also write to the court to postpone their jury service.

Twelve people are needed for a jury trial. Usually about 60 people receive a letter to come to the court at the beginning of a trial. Then about half of those people are chosen, by drawing their names out of a box. These people go into the court and 12 people out of those are chosen for the jury. Then they take an oath to promise to do their best.


Note these expressions: serve on a jury, do jury service

• to sentence (v) – to send someone to jail or some other punishment; a sentence (n)
• self-employed – works for himself
• postpone – do this at a later date
• oath – promise to do his best
• juror – a person on a jury
• in contempt of court – rude to the judge or not obeying the rules of the court
• on bail – has to pay money to stay out of jail until his appeal
• appeal – go to a higher court to try to change the sentence
• draw names out of a box – a ballot or random selection
• chosen (pp of choose) – choice (n)

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