You do not become a juror until you:
- have been called into the jury box, and
- have either sworn (on a holy book of your choice) or 'affirmed' that you will try the issues and return a true verdict, according to the evidence.
Challenges to you being a juror
An accused person may ‘challenge’ up to 7 prospective jurors, without giving any reason. A challenge means that they may say that they don’t want certain jurors. The prosecution may also ‘challenge’ 7 prospective jurors. If your presence on the jury is successfully ‘challenged’, you will have to step down.
You should not let this upset you, as it is not a personal reflection on you. Challenges are allowed to ensure that there is absolute fairness in the proceedings.
If you are challenged without a reason being given, you must leave the jury box. You may be called to serve on another jury in a different courtroom later.
If you are challenged with a reason given, it is the judge who decides whether or not you will serve. One reason might be that the accused knows you.
Tell the judge if you know anyone taking part in the trial.
If you know the accused person, a witness or anyone taking part in the trial, or if you are in any way connected with the case, you must let the judge know before you have been sworn or have affirmed. If you become aware of a connection after the trial has begun, you should immediately send a note to the judge through the foreman or forewoman of the jury.
How long will I serve?
This depends on different factors like:
- the county where the trial is held,
- the number of weeks the court sits there to hear criminal cases,
- the number of trials listed, and
- the length of these trials.
On the first day you attend the court, if you are sworn as a juror for a trial, you will be told at the start of the trial how long it is expected to take. If you are sworn on the jury, the working day is usually 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. However, hours of attendance may vary and depend on the judge. The court staff will keep you up to date.
If you are not sworn as a juror for a trial on that day, you will be free to go unless otherwise directed by the presiding judge. If you are in employment, you should return to work. However, you are still on jury service, and you must attend every morning during the period of your service unless otherwise directed by the judge.