Judge rages at people who skip jury duty after fining man £1,000 for failing to turn up in court 3 min read

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Judge rages at people who skip jury duty after fining man £1,000 for failing to turn up in court

  • A judge has come out and said too many people are lying to get out of court duty 
  • Judge Andrew Menary says too many potential jurors are ‘ignoring summonses’ 
  • Judge Menary recently fined a pensioner £1,000 for refusing to serve as a juror  

Too many potential jurors are brazenly lying to get out of court duty – with some even refusing to attend, a judge has warned.

There are even internet sites where those trying to wriggle out of serving can find ways to evade doing their public duty, according to Judge Andrew Menary, QC.

He spoke out after imposing the maximum £1,000 fine on a pensioner who refused to serve as a juror and then failed to attend contempt proceedings in court.

Judge Menary, the Recorder of Liverpool, said the message had to go out that those who fail to attend jury service face being hauled to court themselves.

He told the hearing that ‘jurors across the country are simply ignoring summonses or refusing to attend when contacted without any reason or without any legitimate reason’.

‘I understand there are now web chat sites in which excuses and techniques for avoiding jury service are openly discussed. People need to understand that if they fail to attend at all or without good reason the court will impose the maximum penalty.’

While jurors can be jailed for doing their own research or divulging details of deliberations, failing to attend without proper grounds is only punishable by a fine.

Judge Menary made his comments at Liverpool Crown Court after fining Barry Grimes, 70, of Bromborough, Wirral.

He failed to attend the court on January 18 last year and his jury service was deferred.

Grimes was next required to attend earlier this month but again failed to turn up and was asked for an explanation. Judge Menary said that Grimes gave a range of reasons, including that he could not sit for long periods. When told he would need a doctor’s certificate, he changed his reason to not being able to concentrate for long. Informed that a doctor’s note would again be required, Grimes indicated he was not unfit but simply refusing to attend.

Judge Menary said Grimes had ‘displayed a wholly unpleasant and unnecessary attitude when speaking to the court officer’. He added: ‘He was required to attend today to show cause why the court should not impose a financial penalty and he has, it seems to me, quite deliberately failed to attend, therefore I am going to impose a fine for this contempt of court.’

Grimes was ordered to pay £1,000 within 28 days or face 14 days imprisonment. The judge also fined another man, Jack Kanteen, 27, of Kirkby, £250 for contempt of court by failing to attend for court service.

Kanteen, unemployed, said he neither received the original summons nor phone messages as he had changed his number. He claimed he had been looking forward to serving but got the wrong date.

In 2017 a total of 365,000 people were summonsed to do jury service in England and Wales of whom 29 per cent were excused, a rise of two percentage points on the year before.

While no chatroom was identified in court, a recent thread on the popular Mumsnet website entitled ‘Avoiding jury service’ gives potential excuses such as work commitments or childcare. However, several comments on the site countered that being on a jury is ‘your civic duty’.

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