People who shirk jury service are facing a £1,000 fine and possible imprisonment, Bradford’s leading judge has warned.
The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, has described the British jury system as “a cornerstone of society.”
He has found a Bradford woman to be in Contempt of Court for refusing to come to the city’s Crown Court to carry out her duties as a juror.
She then failed to attend on Thursday for a Juror to Show Cause hearing to apologise for her previous non-attendance and explain herself.
After the usher announced that she had “Tannoyed for a fifth time” without success for the woman, Judge Durham Hall said she would be arrested if she did not attend court next Friday.
She had asked to be excused jury duty but the request had been denied.
Judge Durham Hall said she lived close to the court building.
“This would appear to be a blatant ignoring of the fundamental duty of a citizen to perform his or her duties as a juror,” he said.
He had demanded her presence so that he could discuss the matter with her.
“She would have been given a rebuke and requested to attend next week,” Judge Durham Hall said.
“Sadly, because now I have to display the deep concern in the criminal justice procedure when jurors don’t turn up, I have to insist that she attends to face Contempt proceedings. She will attend next Friday at 10am, with a legal representative, otherwise I will be compelled to have her arrested.
“The courts will show only a robust attitude. The gloves are off: those who wilfully ignore their duties will go to prison, save in exceptional circumstances, such as age,” Judge Durham Hall said.
He warned that swingeing fines of £1,000 could also be dealt out.
“When the notice comes, if you are not excused, you turn up for jury service,” he said.
So far this year, jurors have played an essential role in several big trials in the city.
Last week, Judge Durham Hall thanked the jury in the Bijou Nightclub manslaughter trial for their diligence in a “fraught and difficult case.”
The twelve were discharged after being unable to reach either unanimous or majority verdicts in the case of nightclub bouncer Ciaran Spencer, 25, of Green Head Drive, Utley, Keighley, who denied the unlawful killing of James Etherington.
Praising the jury system, Judge Durham Hall thanked the panel for their “impeccable courtesy, co-operation, excellent time-keeping and good spirits.”
In April, he praised the jury in the Mohammed Nisar Khan and Tony Grant murder trial and excused them from further jury service for ten years.
Khan, known as Meggy, and Grant, known as Granty, were jailed for life for murder of Amriz Iqbal.
After the verdicts, Judge Durham Hall said: “The jury system is a cornerstone of society going back well over 1,000 years in this country."
“This is a real thankyou on behalf of me, my staff, this community.”