At some stage during the course of your lifetime you may receive a Summons from the County Registrar in the Courts Office to appear in Court on a specific date for the possibility of being empanelled on a Jury most likely in a criminal matter although some civil cases, for example defamation, also require a Jury Trial. Every Irish citizen over 18 years old who is on the electoral register is eligible for jury service and the County Registrar selects at random from the register who is to receive a Jury Summons. There are certain persons exempted from jury service such as those who have been convicted of a serious offence or have been sentenced to prison, members of the Gardai, Defence Forces, Prison Officers, Legal Profession and the Courts Services. Also if you are aged over 65 you can elect not to serve on a Jury as can religious personnel and also those who provide an important community service such as practising doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, etc. When you attend Court on the date specified it is not guaranteed that you will be empanelled on a Jury. In order to select a panel of 12 jurors names are drawn at random from a ballot box. If your name is called you go to the Jury box and firstly you have an opportunity to state if you are ineligible for or disqualified from Jury service or if you know any witnesses in the case. Your selection as a Juror can be challenged by either the prosecution or the defence and each side may challenge up to seven potential jurors without citing any reason and thereafter may challenge any number of jurors if they can “show cause”. When selected the Jury members will individually swear an Oath that they will properly try the issue and give a true verdict according to the evidence. Unfortunately, there is no payment for Jury Service, however, the Juries Act, 1976 does place a duty on your Employer to allow you to attend for Jury Service. Failure to attend for Jury Service is an offence punishable by a fine and it is part of your civic duty to make yourself available for Jury Service if you are not a restricted person or a person excused as of right.
Joseph O’Hara, Principal, O’Hara Solicitors, Cross Street, Athenry, Co. Galway
Telephone 091-844045, oharasolicitors.com
Legal advice available on all matters