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Friday, October 12, 2012

After two weeks of being judgemental, my first stint of jury service is finally over. And I think the British tax payer got their money's worth out of me. Having completed two gruelling trials by the end of Tuesday, I thought they might give me the rest of the week off, but to my surprise, I was informed on Wednesday that my services were still required down at the law courts. Apparently there was a burglar out there who needed my particular brand of justice.

Needless to say, my only personal experience of theft was when I stole Lisa's heart eight years ago. Unless you include all the times I've failed to scan stuff at self-service checkouts. But despite that, they felt I was just the kind of juror who could weigh up a burglary charge with speed and precision, and return a verdict by the end of the week. I see jury service as the most vital of civic duties, but I haven't checked my e-mails for a fortnight, so I told them I needed to be back at work on Monday. They responded by assuring me that the case would be over by Friday afternoon.

And so it proved. Hanging might have been removed from the British legal system in 1969, but hanging around is still very much a part of the court process. So having been kept waiting for inordinate periods of time while shadowy deals were done in dimly lit back rooms (mostly over who gets the sandwiches), we were eventually told that the defendant had changed his plea to guilty, and the trial was being abandoned. He must have seen me striding up the courthouse steps with the air of a young Perry Mason, and realised he didn't have a prayer.

My jury service might have ultimately fizzled out into nothing, but over the course of the two weeks, it was a very worthwhile experience. It's taught me that the job of a barrister is essentially a dull one, although not quite as dull as being a judge, but my overall interest was huge, and for the most part I loved every minute. Although it drained me faster than Amelie with a Fruit Shoot.

It also gave me the chance to read a book (not in court, I hasten to add, but in the jury assembly room), which is no mean feat for a non-reader like myself. I actually read 'The Code Book' by Simon Singh, from start to finish in nine trialling days. As a result, I'm now attempting to clear some time in my schedule to crack The Beale Ciphers, and pop over to America to dig up some treasure. I think I can have it done by Christmas, assuming Lisa looks after the kids.

In the meantime, we've had an official letter from Am's nursery...

They want us to dress our child as a monster. Which makes a change from dressing our little monster as a child. The alternative is to opt for her favourite scary character. So we're going to give her a cigar and some jewellery, and let her go as Jimmy Savile.


Phil's Mum said...

.....or, alternatively, you could dress her up as the Gruffallo.

Zed said...

Hold you hard, young Phil, your simile is a bit awry.  Perry Mason was always on the side of the defendant.  You should have been out there proving the DA wrong.

Phil said...

That was a typo. I meant Perry Como. The way he sang 'Wanted' proved he was a man you don't want to mess with in court.

vinay said...

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