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NO MORE RIGHT TO BE EXCUSED JURY SERVICE

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Every year almost half a million people are summoned to sit as ...
Every year almost half a million people are summoned to sit as

jurors, usually in a criminal case. From April 2004 the pool of

eligible people will significantly increase as almost all of the

existing groups of people disqualified from, ineligible for or

entitled by right to be excused from Jury Service, will be eligible.

Under the new legislation everyone called for jury service should

serve unless there are compelling reasons to be deferred or excused.

Expanding the pool of potential jurors in this way will ensure that

juries better reflect the communities from which they are drawn, and

improve public confidence in the justice system as a whole.

Announcing a consultation on the new guidelines for excusal and

deferral to be used by jury summoning officers, courts minister Chris

Leslie said: 'The draft guidance set out in the consultation paper is

intended to strike a balance between the needs of society to have a

representative jury to hear cases, and the needs of the person

summoned to undertake jury service.

'Most people understand that it is an important civic duty to serve

on a jury when summoned. Nevertheless, I believe the guidance

recognises and takes account of how jury service can affect the lives

of people already subject to a multitude of conflicting demands.

'It is essential that all requests for excusal or deferral are dealt

with fairly and consistently across the country and we want to hear

from anyone who has a view on this.'

All registered electors aged between 18 and 70 years of age, except

certain individuals with a mental illness or convicted of a criminal

offence, will be eligible for jury service and it will be necessary

for anyone else seeking to be excused jury service to show 'good

reason' why they should not do their civic duty.

It is not intended that the new guidance should cover every possible

circumstance but it should establish a general approach for the Jury< p/="">Central Summoning Bureau to apply a fair and consistent approach.

The new guidelines will be used by the (JCSB) when exercising its

discretion to defer or excuse a person summoned for jury service in

England or Wales.

This consultation follows from the recommendations made by Lord

Justice Auld in his Review of the Criminal Courts and from the

subsequent provisions contained in Schedule 29 of the Criminal

Justice Act 2003.

The consultation period ends on 27 February. A copy of the

consultation paper can be downloaded from the DCA website

www.dca.gov.uk

The consultation period ends on 27th February 2004. A copy of the

paper can be found at http://www.dca.gov.uk/consultation/juries/

Note

1. Clause 298 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolishes the

categories of ineligibility and excusal as of right contained in

schedule 1 of the Juries Act 1974.

2. It also places a statutory duty on the Lord Chancellor to publish

guidance about the way in which the Jury Central Summoning Bureau

will exercise its function on discretionary deferrals and excusal

under sections 9 and 9A of the 1974 Act.

3. Under the new legislation anyone who does not wish to serve as a

juror, will be required to show 'good reason' why he or she should

not serve as summoned.

4. The Criminal Justice Act also places a statutory duty on the lord

chancellor (in whom responsibility for jury summoning is vested), to

issue guidelines as to the manner in which the functions of the

appropriate officer (i.e. the Jury Central Summoning Bureau) are to

be exercised. The purpose in doing this is to ensure clarity and

transparency of the discretionary system. It is on these guidelines

that this consultation paper seeks views.

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