Jury Experience


Some time ago I was selected as a member of a jury. This is a look back at the experience. If you’re looking for any juicy insider tidbits on a trial you’re in the wrong place.

Here are the rules and regulations regarding a jury in British Columbia.

The process started when I received a summons in the mail. Plenty of people suggested that I come up with a reason to get out of it. However, I was interested going through the process. Besides, the odds of being selected seemed pretty low.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

On selection day there must have been 80 people jammed into the halls of the courthouse. Luckily I showed up early and found some decent wall space to lean on while waiting for things to start about an hour late. Eventually we were packed in the courtroom listening to the judge give a lengthy introduction to the process.

Upon seeing the defendant in the courtroom I thought it was odd that I had also seen the defendant standing in front of the courthouse and wandering the hallways jammed with potential jurors. I found it strange that the defendant would be able to mingle with the potential jurors like that.

The court started the selection process by calling us in groups of 6. Many people had all sorts of reasons to be excused and the judge did excuse some of them. The lawyers were also able to excuse jurors which they did as well. I started thinking my odds were going up when the first 3 groups were called and excused without a single selection being made. This was going to take some time.

I was in the 5th group called and became the 2nd juror selected.

Once all the jurors were together as a group the judge and sheriff gave us another lengthy bit of rules and instructions.

During the course of the trial we each went home every night and we were free to go anywhere for lunch. There were basically no restrictions on us. We were discouraged from seeking information about the trial and anyone involved. But that was it.

It was completely different once we were sequestered for our verdict. We had to do everything together as a group. If one of us wanted to step outside the sheriff would escort all of us outside together. It was kind of amusing. We must have looked like a group of children walking to the park with a teacher.

Other than going to the bathroom we were meant to see and hear exactly the same things. In fact, when somebody did go to the bathroom we were expected to stop talking about the trial until they returned.

In the evening we were not allowed to go home and food was provided for us. The group was escorted to a hotel where each room had the television disconnected and we were not allowed any internet access. There was a sheriff sitting in the hallway to make sure nobody exited or entered our rooms overnight.

In the morning we were rounded up for breakfast and escorted back to the courthouse to carry on.

The thing I found most strange about the whole experience was how little of the trial we actually saw as jurors. We didn’t see a single photograph or piece of physical evidence. We listened to witnesses and police officers answering the lawyers questions and drawing sketches. That was it. I’m not sure if this is normal for most cases.

On top of that, both lawyers were continually calling for discussions on a “point of law”. Everything stopped while we were escorted to the jury room. Sometimes those discussions took a couple minutes, sometimes over an hour. Eventually we were escorted back into the courtroom and the trial would carry on with no information provided to us.

Overall I found the experience quite interesting. I encountered a few strange things that I didn’t expect. Plus, it’s good to have some insight into how our legal system works.

If you ever get called in for jury duty I suggest you don’t try to get out of it. Go through the process and see what happens. You might be surprised.

Have you ever been on a jury? Are you interested in taking part if you are ever summoned? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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