I was called up for jury service this week. The first thing anyone said to me when I mentioned it is “If you want out get out of it just blah blah blah”. What’s that all about? While not exactly a barrel of laughs, I thought it’d be a really interesting life experience. I didn’t try and get out of it – but I have to admit I was having second thoughts on the day. It’s all fairly unnerving, or at least it is for people like me who are easily unnerved by certain situations.
After a lengthy roll call of about 200 possible jurors, and some brief instruction on the day, Justice Carey arrived, and straight off the cuff ran through a summary of the current case. I didn’t even see the defendant arrive but all of a sudden I was listening to grisly details of a man accused of murdering his brother in a knife and hatchet fight. So I peaked over the rail and sure enough there he was with his head in his hands. It only struck me then that this is the central criminal court and it was all going to be very serious shit. I saw three different people who were accused of murder.
I couldn’t believe the amount of people around me cracking jokes or noisily reading papers. I felt like nudging the guy beside me and saying “Look, that’s tomorrow’s news right in front of you, right there!” When the jury were sent off to reach a verdict (they found him guilty of manslaughter), it was our turn.
The atmosphere was unbelievably tense. Nerve bugs like me feed off that shit. I was feeling more nervous then the new defendants that had just strolled in. Jury names were picked out of a hat and people filed up to the jury box where they were either sworn in, rejected (by prosecution or defence team), or shouted up that they had a holiday in a couple of weeks. A few people seemed to get cold feet and copied the holiday idea. I was surprised at how many people swore on almighty god. Not one person requested to attest. I guess when you’re surrounded by peers, it’s easy to forget the general populace still go through the motions of Catholicism (or are actual believers).
My name wasn’t called for either of the two new cases. Both would have ran for at least four weeks and both were murder cases; the guy who allegedly grabbed the steering wheel of a car, causing the death of a bloke who he argued with in a club earlier. And the other case was a guy who casually pleaded guilty to an attempted murder with a sawn off shotgun in Stillorgan. Nice. Imagine the amount of waffle I’d write if I actually ended up on the jury.