Happily Ever After
Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, three cats, garden wildlife, a camera, a computer – and increasing amounts about running
Silence In Court
by admin - 20:15 on 28 August 2013
My career as a legal arbiter proved to be a short one, although for a while it felt much longer.
Around sixty would-be jurors arrived at Dingwall Sheriff Court this morning, all clutching brown envelopes containing their call-up papers. After queuing outside the courtroom for ten minutes we were ushered into an incredibly overheated room where we filled up the public benches, all of which were designed for someone much shorter than me, then treated to a short introductory talk by the court clerk.
A boring hour later, after all the back-room plea bargaining had concluded, there was only one not guilty plea to be heard. The clerk revealed the name of the alleged attacker and his alleged victim (my prediction of a pub fracas proved correct, although the alleged incident took place outside) and two minutes later two former would-be jurors were on their way home because they knew the people. It's a small world in the Highlands.
Another hiatus followed, during which gowned legal eagles came and went and whispered and muttered, until at last a neatly dressed defendant was put in the dock and the court rose to greet the arrival of the sheriff.
At last, the clerk prepared the hi-tech ballot equipment – a sweetie jar filled with all the names written on folded slips of paper – and drew the first of fifteen lucky winners (there's fifteen in a Scottish jury) who took their places in the bijou jury box. Maybe it's just as well that I wasn't one of them. There were no John Grisham-style jury challenges or whispering experts. Shame.
The unneeded jurors stayed in our seats for a while, just in case any of the chosen fifteen had to drop out, and in the meantime observed some applications for adjournment of cases by a brace of mumbling legal eagles. Finally, the sheriff thanked us and we left before the trial began. A check of the court hotline tonight confirmed that we're not needed tomorrow and have been released from our jury citations.
So, a bit of a disappointment, but at least my early return meant that The Pride didn't go hungry all day. There's always a silver lining.
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