The court case in which I was on the jury was finally wrapped up just before lunch today. The judge had finished his summing up yesterday afternoon, allowing us jurors just about half an hour of discussion before we broke for the day. The case has been going on, with breaks for various reasons, since Monday last week and, although I am prohibited from making any detailed comment about the jury's deliberations, the details of the case itself are, I presume, now in the public domain. There were two charges. The first was that three defendants had caused an affray; the second was that one of the defendants had caused grievous bodily harm. This all took place during an evening back in November 2008 - yes, 18 months ago - in two adjoining villages, moving between three pubs in those villages. I think it fair to say that only two of the witnesses and defendants had drunk nothing that night, although two more (the land lord of one of the pubs and the landlady of another) had probably remained sober. Just about all the others had been under the influence to some extent, ranging from having drunk just one pint to having been pretty much legless.
The jury, which was selected completely at random, consisted of a good cross-section. Ages ranged from low 20s to upper 60s, there were seven men and five women, there were a variety of occupations and all were strangers to each other at the start. I was impressed by the way everybody was open-minded and prepared to listen to a point of view completely different from their own and, whilst disagreeing, remaining on polite and friendly terms. Of course, that is exactly how it should be, but it reinforced my faith in the British system of justice.
Having delivered our verdict, we were held in the retiring room for a short time while the jury bailiff made a phone call. He then announced that we would not be needed this afternoon - nor tomorrow or Friday either! My stint as a juror is over. I found it an interesting experience, but not one that I would be in a hurry to repeat.
Oh yes, all three were found guilty on the affray charge and the one was found guilty of causing GBH.