by Donella Hosten
Criminal defence attorney, Anselm Clouden is calling for a change in the payment method used for jurors, as this may be part of the problem for their failure to show up for jury duty.
Within the past few months, several jurors have been fined for failing to show up for duty during the assizes. This caught the attention of Clouden, who stated, “Jurors have an awesome responsibility to the due administration of justice,” therefore, he believes the State needs to increase the daily stipend that jurors receive.
During an interview with NOW Grenada, Clouden stated that many jurors come from the rural areas, and some of them are unemployed, yet the onus is on them to find their way down to court in St George’s. According to him, this can affect their presence in court, therefore, he is suggesting that the state changes how and when jurors are paid. “I think the system ought to change, so that jurors are given a voucher once they are in panel, which they can cash in at the Treasury,” he said, to secure their daily travels to and from jury duty.
The assizes occur in January, May and September for 3 months at a time, and at times, there have been shortages of jurors, which have resulted in accused persons being set free. However, according to Clouden, if the State provides daily vouchers to jurors who are in panel, the jurors who fail to show up or comply with their duties can then be fined or imprisoned, because they now have a financial obligation to the State. A panel of 30 jurors is needed during the assizes, and jurors are usually paid at the end of each of the assizes.
According to Clouden, “We can structure things in such a manner, so as to ease the financial burden that befalls jurors, and the way to do that is to increase the daily stipend…” as their responsibility is a very important part of the judicial system, and can result in people being imprisoned for offences. Recently, there have been persons set free due to the lack of jurors. Further, if the accused appears in court on numerous occasions, and the State is unable to fulfil its obligations due to insufficient jurors, “the court has no choice in the due administration of justice; it must be fair to the accused to discharge him…”
In relation to the provision of refreshments for jurors, Clouden indicated that if the State increases the daily stipend and provides vouchers, jurors will also have enough to purchase their own refreshments.
According to the website of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Jury Act provides for:
- Jurors’ lists
Within the first seven days of November in every year, the magistrate of each District shall make out and sign an alphabetical list of the persons within each parish of his or her District qualified to serve as jurors, with the Christian name and surname written at length and with the true place of abode, the calling or business, and the nature of the qualification of every such person.
- Publication of list
(1) The magistrate shall forthwith cause the list to be published in the Gazette and a copy thereof to be affixed upon the principal door of the Court House and of every police station in the parish.
(2) The magistrate shall also forthwith cause a copy of the list to be delivered to each of the other members of the Court for the revision of the list.
(3) There shall be subjoined to the list as published in the Gazette and to every such copy a notice stating that all objections to the list will be heard by the Court for the revision of the list at a time and place to be mentioned in such notice.
(4) The session of the Court for the revision of the list shall be held in each parish within the first seven days of December in every year.
- Revision of list
(1) On the day appointed for the revision of the list the Court shall examine the list and shall receive and hear any objections thereto, and if any person not qualified or liable or fitted by character and intelligence to serve as a juror is inserted in the list, the Court shall, upon the evidence on oath of the person objecting, or other proof, or upon their own knowledge, that he or she is not qualified and liable to serve as a juror, strike his or her name out of the list.
(2) It shall be lawful for the Court to insert in the list the name of any person improperly omitted therefrom and also to correct any errors or omissions which may appear to have been made in respect of the name, place of abode, calling or business, or the nature of the qualification of a person included in the list:
Provided always that no person’s name, if omitted, shall be inserted in the list unless upon the application of such person, or unless such person shall have had a notice from a magistrate requiring him or her to show cause why his or her name should not be inserted in such list.
- Copy of revised list to be sent to Registrar
Upon completing the revision of the list, the members of the Court shall certify in writing upon a fair copy of the list as revised that they have examined such list and that the same is, to the best of their knowledge and belief, a true and proper list of the jurors within the parish, and the magistrate shall forthwith transmit the certified copy to the Registrar.
- Appointment of Court to revise list
(1) The revision of the list for each parish in each year shall be by a Court consisting of the magistrate of the District sitting with two assessors. The two assessors shall be such fit persons residing in the parish as the Governor-General may appoint.
(2) The Chief Justice may make rules regulating the procedure and prescribing the times of meeting of such Courts.
- Appeals from magistrates
(1) A person who makes an objection and is dissatisfied with the decision of the Court thereon may, upon giving to the magistrate, within five days after the pronouncing of the decision, written notice of his or her intention to do so, appeal from the decision to a Judge in Chambers.
(2) On the expiration of the said five days, the magistrate shall transmit to the Registrar a note of the proceedings on the hearing and determination of the objection.
(3) The Judge shall hear the appeal in a summary manner, and shall make such order in respect thereof as may be just.
(4) The Registrar shall forthwith publish in the Gazette the alterations and corrections, if any, made in the lists in consequence of the hearing and determination of any such appeals.
- Making up of Jurors’ Book from revised list
(1) Immediately after the final revision, the Registrar shall cause the lists so finally revised to be fairly and truly copied in alphabetical order, in a book to be kept by him or her for that purpose and to be called “The Jurors’ Book”.
(2) The Jurors’ Book so made up shall be taken to be a true record of all persons qualified and liable to serve on juries for the year from 1st January to 31st December then next ensuing:
Provided that each Jurors’ Book shall remain in force until the next Jurors’ Book has been made up.
- Jurors’ fees and travelling expenses
(1) (a) Every juror shall be entitled to receive from the Registrar out of funds advanced to him by the Permanent Secretary (Finance) for the purpose, the sum of six dollars a day, or part of a day, for each day he or she is required to attend, and does attend, a session.
(b) Every juror shall be entitled to receive in addition a subsistence allowance of twenty-five dollars a day or part of a day, for each day he or she is required.
(c) Jurors residing outside the limits of the parish of Saint George shall each receive in addition a subsistence allowance of not less than four nor more than six dollars a day, or part of a day, for each day he or she is required to attend, and does attend, a session.
(2) No juror shall receive the subsistence allowance provided for in subsection (1)(b) and (c) while he or she is required to serve, and does serve, on the trial of any person where the Judge has directed that the jury shall be kept together.
(3) Every juror serving on a criminal case shall be paid such travelling expenses, if any, as to the Registrar seems reasonable in each particular case.
- Refreshment, etc., of jurors
The Judge may make such order as he or she thinks proper for the accommodation, custody, and refreshment of the jurors who have been sworn in any criminal case, and the costs attendant upon the making of any such order shall be defrayed from the Treasury.