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Court Life

 
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Ian Moore
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:04 pm    Post subject: Court Life Reply with quote

2nd week of jury service completed today, along with the case for the prosecution, bar a few minor loose ends. Looking at the best part of another fortnight.

It's been a strange experience so far, a peculiar mix of intensity and levity. The court ushers are all very light hearted and eager to joke around behind the scenes. Seems to be an antidote against the constant depressing content they're exposed to in their work.

We asked one if she got worn down by sitting in on these cases constantly and she said she just doesn't listen to them any more.

A lot of the time when I'm outside of the court I forget all about it and life goes on as normal. Sometimes though, I find myself conducting internal conversations obssessively in my mind in the style of cross examination. Sometimes, when I'm trying to get to sleep, I get a verdict going around and around in my mind. Some of the days have been incredibly tiring. You don't notice so much at the time, but the next morning it's so difficult to rise, your brain is so weary. Just not used to it I guess.

But the weekend is here, and on Monday we're all going on a day trip to the crime scene! The jury, the judge, the barristers. This may sound sick, I don't know, but we're all quite looking forward to it. We go on a bus and have to take packed lunches. It feels like a school outing. Maybe we'll have to hold hands as we walk up the street. We laugh and joke about the Judge and barristers turning up in tracksuits, baseball caps, strewn with gold to blend in with the chavs.

We get a police escort. Gonna be a right old spectacle.
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opticalparadox
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"we're all going on a day trip to the crime scene....We go on a bus and have to take packed lunches" - That's priceless....Cue Summer Holiday music. Either that or 'Didn't we have a lovely day, the day we went to the Bangor.....all for under a pound, you know.'
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RMCrookes
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I imagine you're noting it all down for future reference, Ian, to slip into a future story. Not sure if I could cope with having to take a few weeks out of my life under compulsion like that.

Do you have to wear court shoes?
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Ian Moore
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys – I haven’t been around much lately, only because with writing and jury service I haven’t been left with much time and/or mental energy at the end of the day. I do most of my online chatting during working hours.

Anyway, after more than three weeks we agreed our verdict yesterday. The case was against two young brothers (17 and 22). The younger of the two had shared some semi drunken, semi aggressive banter with a man who was walking home with his girlfriend last summer, after a night out. The couple continued to head for home, but fatefully a car pulled into the drive that had the older brother in it. After a few words the two brothers followed the couple up the drive. The young one swung a plastic bag containing two cans of lager at the first guys head. He immediately fell to the floor and never moved again. Between them the brothers kicked and stamped to his head while the girl tried to push them away. He died about a day and a half later from a brain haemorrhage when they turned life support off.

The process of jury service was interesting and enjoyable to me. I liked my fellow jurors and it was fascinating to watch the process of the law. Once we had agreed on our verdict, and sent a note to the judge, one of the girls with us started to cry and said she wasn’t sure if she’d done the right thing. The giving of the verdict was very intense, such powerful emotions in that room. When our foreperson said ‘guilty’ a great wave of emotional energy came from the public gallery, which mostly consisted of friends and family of the victim. When we said guilty for the second brother it was repeated. The father of the dead man clenched his first and glared at the boys in the dock and made a snarl that was fury and triumph and exultation mixed. The only people there for the two boys were their father and his girlfriend. He leapt up and screamed at the victim’s family “You shut the beep up!” The younger brother was crying, the older was stony faced.

After that the prosecution offered information on previous warnings and charges that the boys had had for the judge to consider before sentencing. Between them they covered harassment, racist behaviour, actual bodily harm and 2 counts of carrying bladed weapons. The girl who had cried felt better about her decision after hearing this.

Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life and the judge had to consider mitigating circumstances as he set the minimum term they must serve. The younger brother must serve at least 8 years, the older, 12.

We had been given a very helpful set of questions to guide us in our deliberations through the menu of charges from murder through manslaughter to GBH or ABH (Actual Bodily Harm). The three questions for murder involved: joint attack (agreed on quickly), the question of self defence (we agreed self defence didn’t come in to it quickly) and intent to kill, or cause ‘really serious injury’. It was the final question that took up most of our deliberation, but after about four and a half hours split over two days we were unanimous.

Feels strange to be back to reality again.
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RMCrookes
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating stuff Ian, thanks for sharing what you could with us. It's not often we come face to face with life and death stuff like that. The 'back to reality' is one where things don't seem quite that important and we just bumble along making a living, doing this and that, entertaining ourselves, passing time, etc etc. The brutal truth of primitive emotions is only just beneath the surface.
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Ian Moore
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's funny, you know - I think I live in a nicer world than many people, simply because I don't watch the news or read the papers. Many might say I have a "head in the sand" approach, but I don't see it that way. To me the media's perspective on the world is just that: a perspective. And it's a perspective based on ratings or newspaper sales, etc. Michael Moore's film, Bowling For Columbine, showed me what kind of an effect the 'fear based approach' of American media has on their society. Fear breeds reason for fear.

I feel that, while on jury service, I've been immersed in a world that I know is there, and that many people voluntarily step into on a daily basis, each time they read stories of violence or watch the news and say the world is going to hell in a hand basket. But I'm back now in the world of my choosing, which may not be perfectly replete with life and love, but is certainly more balanced and sane than the media fuelled world of frustration and fear.
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RMCrookes
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel the same Ian. I detest the media and all it's hidden and not so hidden agenda. I would never buy a newspaper - except perhaps an odd one at easter or xmas for a bumper prize crossword, but I haven't managed to stop watching the news for some reason. I seem to watch it just to pull it to pieces and I get angry about the cynicism and the obligatory daily football story.
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Ian Moore
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you ever see Bill Baily in Black Books after he'd swallowed The Little Book of Calm and assimilated it into his system ...

Perhaps you should try a refreshing cup of herbal tea instead, or put a few drops of lavender oil into your bath and soak your troubles away.
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RMCrookes
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No - never saw it. Somebody else told me Bill Bailey was good.

Think I need to put some lavender oil in my tea ... feeling a bit pee-ed off with everything at the moment. Think I'm off for a walk.
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opticalparadox
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel similar too. I think sometimes people think I'm naive but I know the realities that exist in the world. A friend of mine told me that I'm not naive, I'm pure-minded. That was interesting. I felt immense sadness for the victim and his girlfriend when I read your story. What an awful experience.
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