For the last couple of weeks I have been attending Jury service which has been an enlightening experience (albeit a long-winded one). Here are five things I learned from it:
1) There is no such things as an impartial juror. I was placed on two cases that both lasted about three days during which time you learn a lot about the people in the dock and not in the dock. People have flaws and in that deliberation room issues come out - especially when pressed to explain themselves or asked direct questions that mean they must question their (often irrational) beliefs.
2) Go with what you know, not what you think you know. Understanding the task at hand is vital in order to move forward correctly - this is doubly important when it comes to Jury duty. It's easy to get sidetracked, add in other elements, form the wrong picture and focus on the wrong area. Often it's best to evaluate what you have, not what you might have - make sure you are clear on the points you must look at to convict or acquit - Groupthink is alive and well.
3) Jury duty insurance exists. I did not know you could get such a thing but as an owner of a very new business I assumed I would be to defer but alas no dice. If you can't financially afford to live on about £30-60 a day (with a whopping £5.71 for lunch in a diabolical canteen) don't read on and call your insurance provider.
4) People don't hate their jobs enough to change. Many of the people I spoke with - despite the excruciating long waits, the poor conditions and multiple unknowns - all said serving on the Jury was more interesting than the current job they were in. I asked them what was stopping them doing something about this issue was - a resounding lack of ambition and confidence was to blame - despite being about to help sentence people to imprisonment.
5) You will be frustrated. But also engaged and inspired. The deliberation room is a hotbed of peer pressure, derision and bad behaviour (at times) but generally the experience was a positive one and one that will stay will you. Don't underestimate the effect having the Defendant and their family stare at you as the decision and sentence are passed down.