Dismal jury stats

October 4th, 2010 at 7:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

People will find it harder to avoid jury service from today, and the Government is promising major changes to simplify the criminal justice system.

Under the new rules, if you get a jury summons and can’t make it, you will have to do jury service at a more convenient time within 12 months.

This seems very sensible. It removes the incentive to find an excuse not to do jury service, if it means a postponement only. But look at these dismal stats:

2008

* 358,865 summonsed.
* 221,032 excused.
* 81,372 failed to show.

So only around 15% of those summonsed make themselves available. Around 60% get excused and disgracefully over 2205 simply do not turn up.

I’m fairly rare – I’ve never been summonsed. But would never consider saying no, unless it really was at a time that was unmanageable.

Makes you wonder about the so called jury of your peers, when in fact it i the jury of 15% of your peers.

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110 Responses to “Dismal jury stats”

  1. dad4justice (6,595 comments) says:

    The jury pool is running out of water. Simon says he can fix it – yeah right Mr Flower. Who can blame people for opting out of a totally dysfunctional and farcical judicial system.

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  2. peterwn (3,338 comments) says:

    Some years back a judge spat the dummy about juror no-shows and issued warrants. One of them got picked up by police a few years later and held in the cells until she could be hauled up before a judge. She had changed address and never got her jury summons. IMO such treatment of people involved with jury service is totally unacceptable.

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  3. arkhad (70 comments) says:

    If they want more people to show up they need to be more respectful of people’s time. It is bad enough losing wages that are never reimbursed but to have to turn up day after day and sit around doing nothing (and losing your own money by the minute) and then being told to go away and come back tomorrow is unacceptable.

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  4. slightlyrighty (2,098 comments) says:

    Simple. If they want juries, then remuneration must be equal to lost wages. If the state wants us to do our civic duty, it should not be at the expense of rent or mortgage payments, putting food on the table, etc…..

    A co-worker had his wife summoned for jury service, and she contacted the court saying that she would like to be excused as she had recently given birth and was beastfeeding a newborn. Not only was this not accepted, she was selected for a jury in a long running murder trial. An employee would not have been so badly treated.

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  5. MarkS (39 comments) says:

    The issue of lost wages is very significant. As somebody who is self employed, the difference between what I regularly earn and what I would get “paid” as a juror is simply massive. Giving up a week of income is a huge ask for self employed. If they fixed this, then I would be much more inclined to go if I was summoned. (A bit off topic – It’s a bit rich for a judge who is earning 350k per year to critise those earning less but who would have to do with almost nothing when called to do their duty.)

    I would like to see either jurors’ rates increased – which would no doubt cost too much for the Government – or a compulsory insurance scheme set up by the Government (run by ACC perhaps?) that would pay jurors their forgone income as a result of their being summoned. I notice that even private insurers don’t offer this kind of insurance.

    The current situation results in the pool of jurors being reduced to those who are on benefits, and those whose employment contracts result in the employer covering the lost earnings. I bet if they ran a survey of jurors who served, the number of self employed people would be nearly zero.

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  6. berend (1,690 comments) says:

    In my line of business, I’m on call 24 hours. Luckily getting a call is extremely rare, but once I get it, I must respond, or it is possible a major thread if not end of the business.

    Happy to do jury service, if the government only moved it to the 21th century. I.e. can we allow mobiles (on silent), internet access, and normal pay for loss of income? Convicts should simply be ordered to pay costs, and if they don’t have the cash, use forced labour.

    As long as our courts are more obliging to criminals then to their “peers”, people won’t feel the need to give time and money.

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  7. mjwilknz (605 comments) says:

    berend, I also have done work where it would have been very disruptive not to be able to respond to something at the drop of a hat. Cellphones and internet are never going to happen in a jury room (since they could be used to the detriment of a fair trial). It’s difficult to see how National hope to make a system like this work. On what’s been put on the table so far, at least, one has to conclude it won’t (work)!

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  8. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    There should be a ‘displacement cost’ system. Unless there is also a system for deploying those waiting in the pool early in the day, rather than been made to feel like a spare part all day then it will remain unpopular.

    I also think that there is a point in allowing ‘Pro Jurors’, as in those that are available as Mercenaries. Thoroughly vetted, and able to declare a network of friends and relatives that may be affected. With an opt out if there is a conflict apparent immediately.

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  9. James Stephenson (2,268 comments) says:

    I completely agree with everything that’s already been said about the financial impact of jury duty. In addition, why the hell do our trials take so long? The Austrians got through the Fritzl trial in four days, it would have taken six months here…

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  10. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Arkhad “but to have to turn up day after day and sit around doing nothing (and losing your own money by the minute) and then being told to go away and come back tomorrow is unacceptable”

    Jury Service usually requires you to be attend for a week. So if you dont get selected on a given day, that’s just the way it is. Obviously a pool of people greater than the total number required for that day’s juries is needed to cover challenges etc.
    If after a week you dont get called on any jury then you could consider yourself lucky.
    Jury service is a duty and your responsibility.

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  11. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    James – it would have taken six months but only after a two year wait for it to start.

    Last time I was on Jury Service in Wellington, people dutifully showed up at the Court three days running only to be told that there were no trials scheduled. They had not updated the “Jury Line” until after time we had to be there. Fucking bureaucrats. To make it worse, people were coming for their service, waiting for the lift, going to the jury selection room, only to be told “no tiral”. I asked why they didn’t have someone downstairs telling us that BEFORE we wasted another fifteen minutes getting into the damn building. All I got was a shrug. Did I say “Fucking bureaucrats”?

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  12. Pete George (23,833 comments) says:

    The Austrians got through the Fritzl trial in four days, it would have taken six months here…

    Not when then defendant pleads guilty to all charges on the third day like Fritzl.

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  13. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    The reality is most jury trials involve some crim with a lengthy criminal history just playing the system. I would have preferred the Justice Minister looked into those factors as to why many people go through hardship to serve on a jury therefore avoid jury service like the plague. Yes it serves the “community” like tatooed gang members and the like.

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  14. James Stephenson (2,268 comments) says:

    Not when then defendant pleads guilty to all charges on the third day like Fritzl.

    Yeah ok, but if he hadn’t it would have taken a week IIRC.

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  15. shady (246 comments) says:

    12 years ago when our children were 2 and 4 yo’s, I was summonsed to jury duty for the first time (in my mid 30’s). As my husband is a CEO of international company, he travels a lot and could not have stepped in. I wrote them a letter excusing myself on these grounds, but noted that I would be happy to sit on a jury once the children were of school age. I have not heard from them since – not one summons!

    On the other hand, my husband must get a summons every couple of years, and for the above work reasons, can not take time out to serve on juries. Now the children are 14 and 16, and I would love the opportunity, but not a word from them. This is not unusual, I’ve many friends in the same situation, and would be happy to help with jury service, but have never heard from them.

    Parents are an excellent example of “peers” and cover the largest percentage of people able to relate to what could be potentially one of their sons or daughters.

    Why not have a register? Those who are available and qualify for jury service. There must be many of us – who are not just retired or unemployed who would be happy to offer our time as part of service to the community.

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  16. Pascal (1,187 comments) says:

    I quite simply cannot afford to go for Jury service. Both in terms of the cost to my employer and the cost to myself. National may be promising this, but unless they are willing to appropriately compensate me and my employer they can get fucked if they call me up.

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  17. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    David I swear you become more socialist by the minute. No concerns at all about the coercive nature of the jury system in New Zealand? No concerns at all about the fact that the system would be unworkable if it were any bigger? No concerns at all about a system that, unlike everybody else in the economy, can simply demand your time and effort uncompensated and, ultimately, at the point of a gun? So the end justifies the means?

    Having been granted the unique right to commandeer the time of citizens without compensation, what do courts do with that privilege? Well they behave exactly according to the incentives before them, which is to assign a low or zero value to the time of citizens by having them needlessly stand around waiting to be called into trials, or not. Had they been asked to, you know, pay for that time, you can bet good money that system would have long ago been overhauled by budget-constrained bureaucrats, to the benefit of everyone.

    So I say fuck jury service, or any service, where the state takes your time without asking and without compensation and without even the decency to do what it can to minimise the disruption, other than by not enforcing its own draconian laws. It is an exercise in needless waste brought about by taking rather than asking for one’s time. And, as expected, National is simply extended the coercion, rather than looking at the underlying economics of the problem.

    I am not saying jury service is not valuable. I am saying that because the state is using coercion to run it, it not only run so poorly that it amounts to an abuse of power, that abuse is guaranteed to deliver worse justice by selecting against employed and busy people who, on the whole, can probably contribute more than average to the level of thinking a jury can muster.

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  18. Rod (180 comments) says:

    While I agree the personal financial cost of doing jury service is a huge incentive to try and get out of it, another factor from my experience is that managers, company directors, professionals or anybody else wearing a suit is highly likely to get challenged, and therefore face a week of fooling around and making up the numbers to no benefit to anyone. The numbers tell us all is not well, and that the system needs a major overhaul, not just an overlay of coercion.

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  19. Radman (143 comments) says:

    Dismal jury stats?

    Dismal Auckland Council voting stats is more depressing.

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  20. berend (1,690 comments) says:

    shady: Why not have a register? Those who are available and qualify for jury service. There must be many of us – who are not just retired or unemployed who would be happy to offer our time as part of service to the communit

    An excellent idea. No doubt National will reject it on those grounds.

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  21. berend (1,690 comments) says:

    ben: I am not saying jury service is not valuable. I am saying that because the state is using coercion to run it, it not only run so poorly that it amounts to an abuse of power, that abuse is guaranteed to deliver worse justice by selecting against employed and busy people who, on the whole, can probably contribute more than average to the level of thinking a jury can muster.

    Excellent summary.

    Rod: While I agree the personal financial cost of doing jury service is a huge incentive to try and get out of it, another factor from my experience is that managers, company directors, professionals or anybody else wearing a suit is highly likely to get challenged, and therefore face a week of fooling around and making up the numbers to no benefit to anyone. The numbers tell us all is not well, and that the system needs a major overhaul, not just an overlay of coercion.

    My experience as well. The chance for a clean and well-dressed white male to be selected is about zero.

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  22. Bob (445 comments) says:

    It’s funny. About this time last year I received a jury summons. I agreed but found due to a change in family arrangements I had to child mind. I wrote back explaining and easily got off. I did offer to do the service another time but was told my name would go back in the draw.

    Before I retired I worked for myself. I received several jury notices but had to turn them down. It does skew the jury lists to those who have the time but misses a lot of talented capable people who have something to contribute.

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  23. tankyman (116 comments) says:

    Both times I have been called it was to the high court and I was told to set aside “at least” 4 weeks.

    I simply cannot afford to be off work that long. It is the kind of thing that could cost me my job – additionally – I just dont have $$$$ sitting around to make up for the wages I would lose – meaning I cannot afford my bills.

    Dropping a months wages simply is not an option – and unless that changes people will always get a way out of it.

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  24. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    One straight forward method of solving this problem would be to make it mandatory for all Govt & local Govt employees to be available for jury service once a year. That would take to onus off the self-employed & private business.
    Cost wouldmt be an issue – they’d get their usual wages/salary anyway.

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  25. MarkS (39 comments) says:

    @voice of reason. I disagree, in that I believe getting a fair spread of potential jurors is important in our legal system. It’s just that the system should somehow pay for time of the jurors involved, just like all of the other members of the court staff get paid. The best mechanism of paying the jurors is open to debate in my mind, but it should be done to avoid distorting the kinds of people that are summoned.

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  26. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    MarkS – I’m not advoocating that juries ONLY be made up of Govt employess, just that they could take up a greater proportion of the summons.

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  27. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    I agree with voice of reason’s earlier comment that jury service is a duty and a responsibility.

    Irrespective of impact to earnings and circumstance, we have a greater duty and obligation to help to ensure that our legal system operates effectively [alas it would seem that efficiently is a much greater challenge.]

    On the side of those who express strong feelings about loss of earning – I also agree. In a very simple sense, if the govt can allow a situation to continue where people who get paid from our taxes can slope off to the beach and smoke some dak instead of working for a living, then I think it is only fair that income earners are fairly compensated for discharging their duty on jury service.

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  28. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    The Jury system is not about the state taking our time, it’s us telling the state “stuff off, we’re keeping the power to convict people of serious crimes, you can’t have it”.

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  29. PaulL (5,450 comments) says:

    I agree with much of what has been written here.

    1. There needs to be reasonable payment for time spent. With a cap, perhaps, but certainly someone with kids and a mortgage, and paid up to about $150K a year, is going to take a big hit from jury duty. I like the insurance concept – changes it from being a political football into being insurance that everyone pays (presumably in proportion to how much they earn), and only get a return from if they actually choose to attend jury duty. I realise that economically speaking this is just a tax, but politically speaking would be much more palatable. Also means the insurance company taken on responsibility for determining income – one efficient way would be for you to specify your income and pay the premium accordingly.

    2. There needs to be some reform to use of time. I agree the time being “free” means that it is poorly used. The general attitude of Courts – with Judges at the top as gods, lawyers a wee way below, and everyone else (including the Courts admin staff) as people whose time can be wasted, is probably a part of the issue. And some of the crap that they put up with from the judges is simply amazing – yes they should have judicial independence, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are govt employees, and some things they don’t get to be prima donnas about.

    Surely the simplest change here would be a rolling pool. Small group turn up Monday, any not selected come in Tuesday and are first priority on Tuesday, plus some new people for Tuesday. Those not selected a second time don’t come back, some new people again on Wednesday.

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  30. wreck1080 (4,001 comments) says:

    I’ve been summonsed 3 times over the last couple of years.

    I can’t do it, i’m in my own business which would cause problems to my clients if I take time off. Additionally, the financial loss could be greater than just the week I do the jury service.

    I’ve only taken a week or so’s holiday every year in the last 7 years (although this year was longer due to some overseas commitments) And, on the week I do get to have time off, I don’t want to be on a jury.

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  31. PaulL (5,450 comments) says:

    Oh, and if we’re going to have insurance for this, please don’t make it run by the govt (ACC style). What we want are a couple of private sector companies who would then be very strong advocates for improving the system – as that would drive up their profits.

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  32. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    I had no problem showing up and the company I work for encourages people to do their civic duty. My complaint is the piss poor way Jury service is run.

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  33. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Have a look at what is written in this thread so far and you will see all of the excuses that are tendered to the Court all of the time. That is why the stats are the way they are.

    Quite frankly it is ridiculous.

    Suck it up, take the financial hit and be glad you live in a society where you can play a role in the administration of justice.

    Or we could remove juries completely and go to three judge panels instead. It would mean a large increase in the number of judges, but I suspect it would get the support of those of you who just can’t do your civic duty.

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  34. wikiriwhis business (4,209 comments) says:

    What is the criteria for jury service.

    I’m 50 yrs old, never been to jail but have never been called.

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  35. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    Given my business consists of one – me – jury service for any length of time may cost me my livelihood.

    Happy to do jury service if they are prepared to compensate me the true cost.

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  36. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    FESmith: “Quite frankly it is ridiculous. Suck it up, take the financial hit…”

    No.

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  37. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Peter, my business consists of only me, but I would jump at the chance. If I was allowed to.

    Wikiriwhis: It is random based on the electoral roll.

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  38. Pascal (1,187 comments) says:

    FE Smith:

    Suck it up, take the financial hit and be glad you live in a society where you can play a role in the administration of justice.

    No. Much as I would like to, if I get called up for a month long trial who will pay my mortage that month? Do you think the bank will kindly let me off payments for a month or more? Who will pay for food for my wife and children?

    So suck it up? Fuck you. I’m responsible for my family and that responsibility comes first.

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  39. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Fuck you.”

    Well now, that isn’t very nice now, is it?

    “I’m responsible for my family and that responsibility comes first.”

    Perhaps, but you also have an obligation to society and the administration of justice. You are given plenty of time to make arrangements. Perhaps the bank would give you a one month holiday from the mortgage to do jury service- have you asked it?

    EDIT: Just so you know, I am self employed. Sometimes I go two or three months without getting paid, especially if I am in a long trial. You make plans if you have to.

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  40. NeutralObserver (97 comments) says:

    Hear hear FE Smith . To the others imagine the state wanting people to do their civic duty. What a totalitarian outrage, you should all be paid an inconvenience bonus. Why not scrap juries, trials, criminal system altogether. Think of the $100 per year you’d each get back of your hard earned money. Mind you, you might get GBH’d on your way to spend it, but the market would sort something out no doubt. When people are so self centered that they don’t realize the system we have, imperfect as it is, requires us to make a contribution to society (over and above just paying the tax we can’t avoid) then we are truly f*clef.

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  41. shady (246 comments) says:

    FE Smith – many of us are happy to take the financial hit – or it’s not an issue – and are not asked, whilst many can not or are not happy to take the hit. Surely there is a balance there which can be tapped into without the stupid cost of running the current administration of jury lists.

    As I said earlier – have a register. Perhaps have a box on the voting ballot which asks “Are you available for jury service in the next 3 years and have had no criminal convictions in the last …. years?”

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  42. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    FESmith: “Peter, my business consists of only me, but I would jump at the chance. If I was allowed to.”

    It’s a free country.

    No idea why you think you can tell me, and others, to “suck it up and take the financial hit”, however.

    I will not take the financial hit. I will not suck it up. I will outline my legitimate objections, and they can make changes if they want me to participate.

    End of story.

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  43. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Shady, that is not a bad idea, but I do like the idea that if you cannot do it now, then you give a time period in the next 12 months when you can.

    Peter: See what Graeme said at 9.52. What you are really saying is ‘let someone else do it for me’. Well, ok. Can they have your vote as well? Why should you have a vote if you are not willing to contribute other than by taxes?

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  44. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    FESmith: What you are really saying is ‘let someone else do it for me’. Well, ok. Can they have your vote as well?

    As has been seen above, people are *willing* to do it, at present levels of compensation, so why not ask them? Surely everyone is happy.

    There’s no point asking me, until they resolve my objections. Once they do so, I’m happy to offer my services.

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  45. spector (159 comments) says:

    I have to add myself to the long list of self employed people that can’t afford to “put aside 4 weeks” for jury service. It’s not just the loss of a months earnings it’s the loss of a months cashflow which is more crippling. Currently I’m not even in a financial position to put aside 4 weeks for myself and haven’t taken a holiday for four years.

    Judges complain about lack of people turning up for jury service and yet expect the rest of the country to work around the judges six hour day and their three lovely holidays to europe every year.

    Forgive me if I have missed it, but I haven’t seen any news story where Judges are demanding they work past 5 o’clock, nights and weekends in an effort to fit in with the lives of jurors.

    If I do jury duty then there is no rebate on the ACC I pay every year despite not being at work, and if the loss of cashflow means I can’t pay my GST on time then the IRD still makes me pay a penalty.

    If National really want to fix things then I suggest:
    1. Get rid of Jury pre-vetting. The jury you get is the 12 people that turn up. If one of the lawyers doesn’t like the look of them then tough.
    2. Extend court hours. Give people the option of jury duty at night and weekends so it lessens the disruption to their employment.
    3. Create two tiers of trial. Major trials (which should be the minority) are given three weeks to run. Everything else is given a maximum of four days. If the two lawyers can’t make their case in the time given then tough.
    4. At the end of it, if a defendant is found guilty then make a conviction mean something. I feel disinclined to sacrifice time and money for a recidivist offender to get another round of community service and home detention.

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  46. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    Peter,

    The last thing I would promote is something that denied you your right to object – and to voice that objection.

    Think of it this way, if you do not want to participate to assist in the running of our legal system, why should everyone else have to subsidise a fair and effective (though not efficient) system for you?

    If (and I’m sure we all hope it doesn’t happen to us) you were to end up appearing in court, would you be prepared to be tried in an officially sanctioned ‘kangaroo court’ in return for never having to serve on a jury yourself?

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  47. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Peter, you haven’t really addressed my point though, have you? Are you willing to give up your vote until you commit to fulfill your obligation to society in being available for jury service? If not, why not?

    Spector: most jury trials take one to three days, and most jurors are only called for a week. 4 week and longer trials are not the norm.

    I agree with getting rid of challenges. The only pre-vetting that goes on by the defence is for the lawyer and defendant looking at the jury list to see if they know anyone on it. If they do, they tell the court and that person cannot serve on that jury. The police are allowed to do background checks. But I agree that other than what the defence side does, challenges should go out the window.

    I work all day and usually have a largish case load. I can’t work 18 hours a day, 5 days a week, and the Court won’t fit itself to my timetable. Until we have a lot more criminal defence lawyers (currently less than 10% of the NZ legal profession) then night courts are not an option.

    The two tier trial idea won’t work, because no two trials are exactly the same. How do you divide time up? What happens in a case like Bain, with a couple of hundred witnesses?

    And conviction does mean something, it is just that most court cases are not publicised so the public don’t get to hear about it.

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  48. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    bhudson: “if you do not want to participate to assist in the running of our legal system”

    Happy to assist. If they run it in the evenings or weekends I’ll assist. I’ll assist during the day if they compensate me for my losses. That could be quite high, so wouldn’t it make more sense to call from a pool who want to do it?

    If I were before a court, I would like to be before the Bain jury. The more unemployed and terminally incapable, the better.

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  49. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>Are you willing to give up your vote until you commit to fulfill your obligation to society in being available for jury service? If not, why not?

    Technically, yes. My one vote makes no difference, as no matter who I vote for, Peter Dunne always wins, Chris Carter remains at the trough, National don’t really change anything, and The Greens occupy seats in the house. So, on a technical level, my individual vote is pretty much useless.

    Philosophically, no. One does not follow the other. Should those who don’t pay tax give up their votes? Why are you only picking on those who would refuse jury duty, on quite reasonable grounds? Don’t we all contribute to society in a number of different ways?

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  50. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “so wouldn’t it make more sense to call from a pool who want to do it”

    What, like they end up with now? So what you are saying is that there really is no problem. Those who want to do it, or who do so out of a sense of civic duty, serve, while those who don’t want to, or have no sense of civic duty, don’t.

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  51. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    Being self employed every couple of years I apply for, and receive, exemption from jury service.

    I intend to continue to do so.

    I’ve followed the arguments of F E Smith and co. (notably Mr Smith does not have to serve jury duty so his comments mean diddly) and thought about this and, quite simply I cannot imagine a situation in which I’d rather have a jury trial instead of just have a judge decide the issue.

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  52. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Should those who don’t pay tax give up their votes?”

    If they refuse to pay their taxes out of a feeling that somebody else should rather than them, then why not? Technically it is tax evasion (or avoidance? I am never sure!) and is a criminal offence. I don’t mean tax minimisation, either. Of course, those who don’t have an obligation to pay tax for one reason or another wouldn’t fit into this category.

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  53. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Mr Smith does not have to serve jury duty so his comments mean diddly”

    Ha ha ha, very true!

    I can- in almost every situation that I can think of I would take a jury over a judge. But then, I work in the system…

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  54. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>What, like they end up with now?

    No. What they do now is send out scattergun invitations. Best if they just invite those who are jumping up and down yelling “pick me! pick me!”

    My mother is one such person. However, when she has been selected, she got challenged. Defense lawyers don’t like white, well-educated women from Khandallah.

    I have little reason to think they’ll like me much, either, and for much the same reasons.
    So, I’d just be turning up, then be told to go home again.

    A waste of everyone’s time and money.

    May as well play charades.

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  55. spector (159 comments) says:

    @F E Smith.
    Thank you for your reply. Maybe the answer is as simple as getting rid of challenges and giving an indication of length of time that jurors will be required. You can budget around being on jury duty for 3 -4 days. You can’t budget around “possibly being required for up to 4 weeks”.

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  56. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    wikiriwhis: What is the criteria for jury service.

    I’m 50 yrs old, never been to jail but have never been called.

    Wikiriwhis: It is random based on the electoral roll.

    Not quite. 52% of the population can never get on a high court jury. It’s random, but only if you live within 30km (45km from today) of a Court. For High Courts, this precludes precludes most of us.

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  57. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    True about HC juries. Any idea of the drop-off rate due to distance for DC juries, Graeme?

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  58. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    Perhaps, but you also have an obligation to society and the administration of justice. You are given plenty of time to make arrangements. Perhaps the bank would give you a one month holiday from the mortgage to do jury service- have you asked it?

    That still leaves you with the accrued interest. A mortgage holiday is not holiday at all. It adds cost and just delays paying that month’s bill. Proper compensation is required.

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  59. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Brian: Why?

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  60. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    Why what?

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  61. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Why is compensation required? After all, we all live here. Isn’t this something that we should do because we are citizens of NZ?

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  62. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    True about HC juries. Any idea of the drop-off rate due to distance for DC juries, Graeme?

    the percentage of people aged 18 years and over who reside outside the jury district areas is as follows:
    53 percent for old High Court jury districts
    49 percent for new High Court jury districts
    23 percent for old District Court jury districts
    17 percent for new District Court jury districts.

    Proper compensation is required.

    Brian: Why?

    By analogy :-)

    You seem to be arguing that jury duty and voting are similar civic duties, so I refer you to section 162 of the Electoral Act.

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  63. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>Why is compensation required?

    Do you get paid for your job?

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  64. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Graeme: Absolutely no problem if the person has to leave for jury duty after being at work until 3pm!!!

    Peter: I do, but I do my job because I choose to, and there is no civic obligation on me to do my job. There is for jury service.

    EDIT: oops.

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  65. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >> I do, but I do my job but there is no civic obligation on me to do my job. There is for jury service.

    Well, you should consider doing it for nothing. Solidarity, and all that, for your brothers and sisters who you insist go without.

    I understand one can be excused, if one has legitimate reasons. One has legitimate reasons.

    One will continue to be excused, until such time as the legal system focuses on addressing the root cause of the non-show problem.

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  66. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Well, you should consider doing it for nothing. Solidarity, and all that, for your brothers and sisters who you insist go without. ”

    Eh? I am not insisting anybody go without. I am simply suggesting that those who don’t think they can afford time off probably could with sufficient notice.

    You may think that you have legitimate reasons, but the Court may not.

    The root cause of the no-show problem is that most people just don’t want to do it. Like you don’t want to.

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  67. MarkS (39 comments) says:

    F E Smith – I think it is clear that the vast majority of people don’t share your view of being required to forgo a reasonable chunk of income for the good of the justice system. I imagine that if there was adequate compensation, all the spurious reasons (such as inconvenience to employer) would disappear, and the pool would increase in size remarkably.

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  68. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    FE Smith – I imagine you get paid to go to court. Probably paid quite well. You are asking someone else to forgo income and in fact asking them to sacrafice for the greater good to do jury service.

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  69. shady (246 comments) says:

    So jake – you wouldn’t willingly offer your time to your children’s school to help with an outing or fund raising event. Or assuming you’re too young to have children, volunteer your time to a charity or an emergency event. They all pay slave rates – but there are plenty of people who are willing to help out.

    Perhaps you know of a union that could stand up for the rights of volunteers and community minded citizens! We might get better pay! :)

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  70. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    MarkS: Which is Peter’s point. The question is what is adequate? What is adequate to a bank clerk might not be so to me. What is adequate to me might not be so to Graeme Hart.

    Brian: When I go to Court, I am there to work in my professional capacity, not to fulfill my civic obligation. So, there is a difference. However, if lawyers were allowed to sit on juries, as they are in the UK, I would happily do so.

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  71. shady (246 comments) says:

    However, I disagree with people being forced to give up weeks of time to fulfil jury service they can ill afford. My point being – tap into an available – probably quite large – pool of people who are willing and able.

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  72. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>Eh? I am not insisting anybody go without.

    Yes, you are, if you consider that “taking time away from earning without matching compensation” is something some of us should willingly do. No, there is no other appropriate time, as all work days present the exact same earnings potential, or lack thereof.

    >>You may think that you have legitimate reasons, but the Court may not.

    They can think what they like. I will continue to state my objections, and, if necessary, route around the unnecessary problem they create for me. And themselves.

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  73. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    F E Smith – I’m disappointed to read your comments here given your stellar contributions here in the past. The point being made by those of us who object is not that jury service is not valuable, it is that government takes without asking, and then compounds the insult by wasting a great deal of the time of everyone involved. This is needless, and a product of assigning zero price to the time of citizens, and can be avoided without sacrificing the otherwise sound principles of the juror system. In fact, getting the economics right will reduce the selection problems against self-employed and full time workers, which is consistent with the principle of a jury being of one’s peers. Yes, jury service is valuable, but it is precisely because of this that getting it working correctly matters. National’s idea doesn’t remotely begin to address these problems. In fact, it compounds them.

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  74. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “They can think what they like.”

    Which explains a lot. You want to look out for numero uno and give no thought to playing a role in society, even if only on a small scale.

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  75. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    The root cause of the no-show problem is that most people just don’t want to do it

    That’s definitely not it, for me. I am actually interested in sitting on a jury, seeing the system work, learning about the law, and so on. And actually I would volunteer a morning to do it, out of interest, if I knew it was for a morning only, and if I could choose the time when work is quiet.

    But a week is too much. At that point lost compensation heads into thousands, and it starts getting risky – if something big happens at work then lost compensation can turn into $10k or more very easily. That’s actually a big deal for most people, it’s uninsurable, and, above all, it is mostly avoidable but for the system’s extraordinary misuse of everybody else’s time.

    The problem is the economics, not a lack of desire to serve.

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  76. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    ben, the problem is that you have to work out whether I am being serious or not… ;)

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  77. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    You want to look out for numero uno and give no thought to playing a role in society, even if only on a small scale.

    No, that’s not it either. Juries can still function. They don’t need to waste everybody’s time. They don’t need to be uncompensated, or be so completely unable to adjust to people’s schedules. The objection is not to the contribution per se, it is to the mismanagement and the coercion.

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  78. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    ben, the problem is that you have to work out whether I am being serious or not…

    Oh. Nice one. Colour me amused beyond all recognition.

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  79. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >> FE Smith: You want to look out for numero uno and give no thought to playing a role in society, even if only on a small scale.

    I play various roles in society, I just draw the line at playing that particular one – with legitimate reasons.

    Even if they do make me show up, how will I contribute? I suspect the most I can possibly do is occupy a chair in the waiting room, and then go home again. I don’t see how this helps society.

    For if I walk into court, and, being as I am, a white male, and the owner of a company, and well educated, and from Khandallah, will the defense lawyer deem me to be an appropriate person to help throw the book at his, undoubtedly, scumbag client?

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  80. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Ben: “But a week is too much.”

    Yeah, I understand that point of view. The difficulty is that trials are set down for hearing in particular weeks, rather than on particular days. You may have a trial starting at any time in that week, depending on whatever trial that might start before your, or that might take precedence over yours. So we are basically on call for the entire week, or fortnight in some Courts. If we could work out how to effectively schedule for specific days, then we could avoid calling jurors up for a week, but right now there is too much fluidity in the process to be certain.

    If you think it is tough on jurors, try being a lawyer who has to be ready for the entire week, just in case. That can cost some serious money in lost earnings, sometimes. And we get no compensation for that!

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  81. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “For if I walk into court, and, being as I am, a white male, and the owner of a company, and well educated, and from Khandallah, will the defense lawyer deem me to be an appropriate person to help throw the book at his, undoubtedly, scumbag client?”

    Absolutely, no problem with it, so long as you have not pre-judged the guilt of the scumbag client. If you have pre-judged the guilt of the scumbag client then tell the judge as you shouldn’t be on the jury.

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  82. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Oh. Nice one. Colour me amused beyond all recognition.”

    A good lawyer can argue both sides of the case, ben. One reaon why society generally doesn’t trust us.

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  83. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>then tell the judge as you shouldn’t be on the jury

    Another elegant way to get out of it :)

    Thanks.

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  84. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Peter: always happy to help!

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  85. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    Laughs.

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  86. NeutralObserver (97 comments) says:

    Sorry but I am with Smith on this, and have nothing to do with the legal system. The main objection seems to be around compensation from the ‘State’ (that is taxpayers) – So OK then how much of a tax increase are you all willing to stump up for for this?, ’cause that is the only way the the State can ‘compensate’. And at what rate? 100% of your earnings, 80%?, 85.56%?, who calculates this, who verifies it ? I still think it is one of the necessary costs of living in a democratic society (no jury service in DPRK – why not live there?), but for those free market, entrepreneurs, man alone, me me me’rs how much more tax wil you pay?

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  87. Fot (252 comments) says:

    F E

    So, if I am looking at the possibility of being on a jury and the case is scheduled to last five or six weeks all I have to do is tell the judge that as far as I am concerned the accused is as guilty as sin and I will be excused from serving?

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  88. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>So OK then how much of a tax increase are you all willing to stump up for for this?

    Zero.

    This is a resource (labour) (mis)allocation problem. More than enough people want to do it, the courts just don’t appear to be sending them letters. Instead, they send them to people who don’t want to do it.

    Rather obvious solution to this problem….

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  89. Peter (1,695 comments) says:

    >>tell the judge that as far as I am concerned the accused is as guilty as sin and I will be excused from serving?

    Make sure you yell out “Guilty!” as soon as you step foot into court.

    Also wear a black hat of some kind…..

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  90. MikeNZ (3,233 comments) says:

    I’ve been called twice in 12 yrs both times challenged so went on my way, lost 2 hrs productive time each time.
    I would love to do jury duty, think it is both a right and an obligation to our society and all you moaners are selfish and stupid.

    Firstly, everyone should be called and serve according to availability (once in a 2 yr period/once a year).
    IE I would make myself available once a year.
    Secondly, either employers should pay (self employed/commission only = state should reimburse) or we get tax rebate to cover costs.
    Thirdly, we should be able to list what time period we are available to serve (1 wk, 2wk, 3wk) and be allocated to a court case accordingly.
    Fourthly, No one should be able to vote, use your passport or license a vehicle/firearm if they won’t do jury duty for philosophical reasons, that’s the rest of society saying stuff you for your non participation.

    Maybe I’m too harsh but I agree with FE Smith, it is our duty , obligation and right, until you don’t have them rights are worth bugger all.

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  91. MarkS (39 comments) says:

    @NeutralObserver In my first post I suggested an insurance scheme, either paid for via ACC contributions (increase would be required), or even a private insurer. It could be optional or compulsory. I would go for 100% of lost earnings (perhaps leave it up to the individual what coverage they would want). No income tax increase required, although obviously the money will come from me and others through premiums. But considering the rarity of getting called up for most people, and the rarity of long trials, I wouldn’t have thought that it would cost too much.

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  92. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Gees, the jury system is as stuffed as justice in this country.
    FES. I never took you for a bleeding heart socialsit before. Something wrong with the water in Canterbury?

    Like lots of others I am self employed and simply work like hell to pay the bills. Need all the days I’ve got.
    I didn’t committ any crime so why should I be penalised by a totally busted system?
    Sort out the system first then reward the honest paticipants.

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  93. PaulL (5,450 comments) says:

    FES: nice argument. I’d say that some people in our society are cash rich and time poor, some people are time rich and cash poor. Usually due to choices they’ve made (how hard they work), sometimes due to other circumstances.

    In our tax system, we make allowances – those with more money are taxed more. In other areas of our civic duty we don’t seem to make that same provision – those people with more time than others aren’t asked to contribute more time. So it would be very logically consistent to look for those who have spare time by preference.

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  94. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    If you think it is tough on jurors, try being a lawyer who has to be ready for the entire week, just in case. That can cost some serious money in lost earnings, sometimes. And we get no compensation for that!

    The labour economist in me tells me you do get paid for some of this – the equilibrium wage, which reflects all kinds of things including, presumably, down time waiting for courts. But, yes, I take your point: it isn’t just the citizens who’s time the courts waste.

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  95. PaulL (5,450 comments) says:

    Ben/FES: this is a common problem in provisioning government services, we also see it in Health. Because the bureaucrats aren’t good at doing scheduling, they just pick their two most expensive resources and schedule those. Everything else is forced to fit.

    In the health system, that’s doctors and operating theatres. In the court system it’s judges and court rooms (and there, I reckon they focus more on the judges). A better allocation system could potentially optimise this better, but would probably require some help from lawyers so as to better predict trial length – i.e. you’d have to say whether you expect to take a long time or a short time. I presume that lawyers are the main determinant of trial length – either the prosecution or the defence must be doing a lot of stuff (and have planned that lot of stuff) if it’s taking a long time.

    I’m sure this isn’t an insurmountable problem if someone actually wanted so solve it. I’m guessing that nobody really wants to solve it.

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  96. shoreboy57 (141 comments) says:

    Instead of a jury summons – how about a call for volunteers. Happy to lock away as many as needed!

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  97. Spoon (104 comments) says:

    Came here to post a story, but slightlyrighty beat me to it – I too know a breastfeeding mother who wasn’t excused. From memory she had to pay for a carer for her child who met her in the foyer of the courthouse every hour or two for feeding.

    @slightlyrighty – might be the same one. In Chch, perhaps five years ago?

    I’ve never had a summons either, however I’m only 24. 360,000 summons in one year suggests that since I’ve been 18 there would’ve been somewhere around 2.3 million summons, so the odds of getting picked soon must be increasing…

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  98. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    MikeNZ I’m quite sure a jury system is not a pre-requisite for other rights. And I’m damned sure a badly-run jury system that needlessly wastes a ton of other people’s time precisely because of its coercive nature isn’t a pre-requisite for other rights either.

    Sounds like you’re sold on the concept of government taking whatever it needs if that serves the ends of upholding rights. So presumably you’d be in favour of compulsory, unpaid Police and Fire service for all citizens. You’d be in favour of compulsory military service. You’d be in favour of compulsory legal training for all – our rights are nothing without law. And to anyone who disagrees you’d presumably point out their “obligation to our society and all you moaners are selfish and stupid”.

    Go on, be consistent, and make your support for this kind of openly coercive government express. After all, according to you, our rights depend on it.

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  99. James (1,299 comments) says:

    Fuck jury servive.Its an underpaid waste of time.I’ve been called twice and bailed both times.I would have actually liked to have done it for the experience but simply could not afford the time and loss of income.I would rather full time jurours were used instead…and allow the retired to do it too…they are a wasted resource in this instance.I wouldn’t trust many of my peers to sit the right way on a toilet seat….fuck having them decide on my guilt or imnnocence…

    And its NOT a DUTY…theres no such thing as an unchosen obligation to give up part of your life at the beck and call of others.Sure….if you want to live in a civil society society then you must be prepared to pay a price….but only if thats your choice….not under threat.

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  100. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Only been called once, wrote back explaining why i would not be able to attend at the time and date but was told too bad. Well that attitude works both ways.

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  101. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,760 comments) says:

    I am not a slave of the State.

    Go fish!!

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  102. V (767 comments) says:

    Radical proposition, – but could we go so far as if an offender has already been convicted in front of a jury trial for (say) 3 offences, any subsequent court actions for similar offences will be taken in front of a panel of judges.

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  103. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,760 comments) says:

    F E Smith says at 10:44 am

    Are you willing to give up your vote until you commit to fulfill your obligation to society in being available for jury service? If not, why not?

    I think we need to refer to the film “Starship Troopers” to best answer this question with the following two sets of quotes:

    RASCZAK: You. Tell me the moral difference, if any, between the citizen and the civilian?

    JOHNNY: The difference lies in the field of civic virtue. A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.

    ……

    RASCZAK: Here in History and Moral Philosophy we’ve explored the decline of Democracy when social scientists brought the world to the brink of chaos, and how the veterans took control and imposed a stability that has lasted for generations since… You know these facts but have I taught you anything of value? You. Why are only citizens allowed to vote?

    LANNY: It’s a reward… what the Federation gives you for doing Federal Service.

    RASCZAK: No. Something given has no value! Haven’t I taught you dimwits anything? I guess they ought to revoke my teaching credential… When you vote, you’re exercising political authority. You’re using force. And force, my friends, is violence, the supreme authority from which all other authority derives.

    CARL: Gee, we always thought you were the supreme authority, Mr. Rasczak.

    RASCZAK: In my classroom, you bet. Whether it’s exerted by ten or ten billion, political authority is violence by degree. The people we call citizens have earned the right to wield it.

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  104. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Here is why no one wants to do the job.

    Inmate’s throat cut after moving cell
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10678132

    Imagine having to sit in a court room and listen and watch these two nasty bastards. With their connections one would want name protection, be invisible to them and air fares to some other country.

    How about we really cut the number of jury trials.
    for a suggestion lets make the crim make a tough choice.
    If he goes to jury trial and is found guilty then the sentence is automatically doubled with no parole.
    They would them maybe consider their options and just decide that really its less onerous to plead guilty unless they were absolutely sure of their innocence.
    I can see lots of time and money saved there. And of course lawyers going penniless but hey what the hell.

    In case you think this is so silly just refer to thew coroners hearing that’s on currently into the death of the Kahui twins.
    Listen to what the man in charge of the case had to say. On the news somewhere.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10678070

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  105. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Also from the Herald.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10678070

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  106. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Viking2: Have a look at my 12.09 comment…

    And there is nothing, as far as I know, wrong with the water in Canterbury. In fact, it is excellent, as I know from my association with the region. But, given how much the earth has been shaking there recently I am just a little relieved to not be living there! My thoughts are often with my fellow Cantabs at this time, however.

    Re jury trials, you do know that over 90% of charges end in a guilty plea, don’t you? Jury trials are only a tiny fraction of the criminal justice process.

    OECD: Ah, yes. Good quotes.

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  107. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    There is no good reason for the scum (or his defence lawyer) to know my home address.

    Get rid of that and I will be far more willing to do jury service.

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  108. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    F E Smith (744) Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Suck it up, take the financial hit and be glad you live in a society where you can play a role in the administration of justice.

    You can spot the lawyer in the room pretty easily some days. The Bentley is paid for, can’t for the life of him understand why all these poor people grizzle about the loss of their paltry incomes for a few days.

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  109. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    My only Jury Service experience was an eye opener. It was a wounding with intent charge. Deliberating after three days I was shocked to hear 9 of the 12 jurors arguing over whose name belonged to the chap who wielded the machete, and which belonged to the chap with a scratch on the side of his head. Jury of my peers? Not likely. Hope I’m never in the unfortunate position of needing to rely on this system.

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