Employers warned not to block jury duty

Employers whose staff have been selected for jury duty have been warned about placing stumbling blocks in the path of those performing the service.

Meanwhile, new jurors have been told that interacting with accused could lead to them being on the wrong side of the law.

This caution came from three judges who welcomed new jurors to their courts yesterday.

Justice Carlisle Greaves, presiding in the No. 3 Supreme Court, noted: “We have some employers in this country who seem to believe that their interest is more important than the interest of the country at large and sometimes they have been giving our jurors some trouble.

“The law prevents them from so doing, but some of them still get bold and take the risk. That is the nature of mankind. We always think we can challenge and get away with it. So you might find you get some pressure. Just let us know so we can deal with those issues,” he told his jurors.

The judge added some employers were sending in letters asking for those who had been summoned to be excused from jury duty. He said when the requests were denied, those employees were then penalised.

“I warn them, do not do that. If they do that, they might run into the wrong judge,” he declared.

Justice Greaves said sitting on a trial was a “stressful venture”.

“To expect a juror, who is sitting on a trial – murder, fraud, sexual assault – to get up from there and go back to work to go through ledgers . . . I will not expect jurors to go back to work when court is finished for the day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Laurie-Ann Smith-Bovell warned her jurors, in the No.4 Supreme Court, to stay away from social media blogs like Naked Departure and Chase Files, as well as social media sites and newspapers.

“You do not want to be influenced in any form or fashion,” she said.

She also told them that trials and jury service were not the way they were portrayed on television.

“This is no NCIS. You are not going to get any great amount of forensic evidence. If it’s not there, it’s not there. Don’t try to import evidence that does not exist,” the judge warned.

Justice Smith-Bovell told the jurors they should let the court know if any employer placed challenges to performing jury service. However, she said if court finished early, they should go back to work.

She further warned them to stay away from situations that could lead to them being charged with perverting the course of justice.

This caution was echoed by Justice Randall Worrell to the new jurors in the No. 2 Supreme Court.

“Do not be in contact with the accused or the accused’s family. If you are contacted by anybody, let the court know. You are not to have any contact with anyone in the case.

“It has happened and jurors have gone to prison for it, in some cases for something as small as a pair of shoes,” he said.

“Just bear in mind each of us has an unguarded moment.

So just be aware, just be careful and keep your head on you at all times,” Justice Worrell told them.

All three judges warned the jurors that they must make their decisions based only on the evidence heard in the court.

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