Today I was supposed to be starting jury service in St Albans but, a week or so ago, they told me I had been cancelled because they had “too many people”.
The same thing happened last year. I was cancelled due to too many people.
So, this time because, as they said, they’d “messed me around”, rather than automatically re-schedule me, they gave me the choice of either being rescheduled again or being excused jury service completely this time round.
I chose to be excused.
I was in two minds about the whole thing anyway.
On the one hand, it would have been interesting to see the jury system (not) work first hand. One person I know who served on a jury in South London told me it was virtual anarchy with jury members not understanding or not being interested in large swathes of evidence and one jury member repeatedly turning up late for the deliberations on innocence or guilt because she “didn’t think it was important”.
On the other hand, I would have been very loathe myself to find any accused person guilty because there is no telling what is being hidden, lied about and distorted in the presentation to the jury. The object of the English court system is not to find out who committed the crime but to decide which of two highly-paid advocates – Defence or Prosecution lawyer – presents their evidence better and hides evidence better. It is like judging an ice-skating competition with imprisonment as the top prize.
Plus, I would not want to convict on uncorroborated police evidence.
Margaret Thatcher’s solicitor – a partner in a major law firm – told me he would never put a Metropolitan Police officer in the witness stand without corroborating evidence because you could never be certain a Met officer was telling the truth.
Likewise, the owner of a prominent detective agency who employs ex-SAS troopers etc, told me he never employs ex-policemen because you can never trust them.
The story of the framing by West Yorkshire Police of Stefan Kiszko, his disgraceful trial and his wrongful imprisonment for 16 years should be taught to every schoolkid in the UK.
It is an illustration of the English court system, not an exception.