In these straitened times, our courts service is always on the look-out for efficiencies. Having a judge sit on his court’s own jury is probably taking things too far.
The BBC reports that Keith Cutler, resident judge of Winchester and Salisbury, was forced to excuse himself from jury service - because he was due to preside over the case in question.
Judge Cutler contacted the Jury Central Summoning Bureau to explain the administrative call-up error, but still struggled to come off the jury for a trial starting next week at Salisbury Crown Court.
He explained: ‘I told the Jury Central Summoning Bureau that I thought I would be inappropriate seeing I happened to be the judge and knew all the papers.
‘They wrote back to me, they picked up on the fact I was the judge but said ‘your appeal for refusal has been rejected but you could apply to the resident judge’ but I told them ‘I am the resident judge’.’
Thankfully, the judge was allowed to retain his place on the bench, although the admitted he would have enjoyed seeing what jury service was like ‘and whether I would have liked the judge’.
It begs the question whether any inappropriate jurors have slipped through the net and found themselves giving a verdict in court. Are there any horror stories out there? Obiter would love to know. (Subject of course to the provisions of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act.)