75 per cent non-attendance on juries in some counties
Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin 7 Pic: RollingNews.ie

15 Jan 2019 / courts Print

75% no-show for jury service in some counties

Former Law Society President Stuart Gilhooly has warned that the high excusal rate for jury service presents a danger that juries may not be representative of all walks of life.

His comments follow the revelation that up to 75 per cent of those called for jury service in counties Cork and Kerry are excused from service.

Demographic

"Presumably those not attending are those with employment or family commitments and the result of this may be that a demographic of retired people, or those with grown-up children, or no children, will form a majority on juries," he said.

It is crucial that all ages, sexes and class demographics are represented on Irish juries, the leading solicitor said.

The Courts Service of Ireland will shortly be making an announcement on the centralising of jury summons administration, a spokesman has confirmed.

The new central office will deal with all jury summons queries and is expected to make significant improvements in attendance rates for jury duty.

Meanwhile, figures published by The Times of London (Ireland edition) reveal significant variation in attendance levels across the country.

County Monaghan scored highest with a 59 per cent attendance rate while the lowest was in County Leitrim with just 15 per cent.

€500 penalty

The Courts Service spokesman said the numbers had shown an improvement in recent years after the introduction of a €500 non-attendance penalty.

The spokesman said “plans are being drafted to fully centralise the jury summons function. This is expected to add efficiencies in terms of both approach and cost.

“It will improve communication with those summonsed and should further improve attendance rates.”

Jury service

A total of 11,000 people were called for jury service in each month of 2018 across the country.

In Dublin, 37,600 people were asked to attend last year and 7,546 turned up, 26,782 were excused and 3,272 failed to respond.

Of those who failed to respond, 495 were dead.

In counties Cork and Kerry, 75 per cent of those called for service were excused, The Times’ figures show.

Kerry, Waterford and Laois had attendance rates of lower than 20 per cent of those called for service.

Lawyers are among those automatically excused from jury service, as are prison officers, Gardaí, soldiers and those who are seriously ill.

 

 

 

 

Gazette Desk
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