Jury Duty is something which every citizen will have to face at some point in their life. A jury is an integral part of the courtroom, it is made up by members of the public and ultimately has the most important role in deciding whether or not a defendant is guilty of a crime.
Have you been called up for jury duty? If so, don’t worry about what you need to do and how to dress, because we are going to go through some great tips today.
Plan For The Day
When you are first called up to appear in court for jury duty, you will need to start planning for the time you’ll be spending there. First of all, let work know that you’ve been called up so you may not be in work for a few days up to a week. It’s the luck of the drawer what kind of case you’ll be overseeing, and if you happen to be the jury for a murder case, you could be on the panel for a few days going through the evidence. Make sure to let your employer know if this is the case.
Now that you are ready for the day, you will need to start planning for what you are going to eat. You may think that there will be facilities there, but the issue is that you don’t know how long you will be in that room pouring over the evidence, and you might get very hungry. Pack yourself a healthy and filling lunch to keep you going throughout the day. Here is a great example of some things you can pack if you have a bento box or a few places to store food in your bag:
· Yogurt, granola and berries
· Fresh fruit
· Chicken and Houmous Wrap with spinach and carrot
· Chicken and sweet potato salad
· Pasta Salad with bacon and chicken
· Houmous and vegetable sticks
Try and keep things with you in the room because you may have to stay there for a long time and eat in there while looking at things.
There will be long hours where you’ll be waiting outside the courtroom, you can use this time to entertain yourself with a book, a movie on your tablet or music, just don’t forget to also bring your headphones with you. You will likely have access to free wi-fi in the court, however because it’s a public server the signal won’t be strong enough for you to stream, meaning that it is advisable to download anything you need beforehand.
The next tip is to make sure that you have cash on you at all times. If you want to pop out to a local shop during the day, they may not accept card payment. It is also advisable to always have cash in case you need to take a bus or taxi home late at night.
Now that you come to thinking about what to wear, take a look at what people in your family suggest and think smart. The courtroom won’t have a strict guideline on what you should wear, but they will have certain guidelines. To be safe, try and dress is business casual. Make sure that you are comfortable though and wear sensible shoes.
Avoid driving if at all possible, because the parking in the city centre is always very difficult and very expensive, plus, you don’t know exactly how long you will be parked up there all day. If the court you have been assigned to is too far away for you to travel, just let them know and they can help you.
How To Spend The Days
If you aren’t familiar with the area around the courtroom, you might want to take the opportunity to explore and run a test trip to make sure that you can find the entrance and any parking if you do want to come by car. You will also be able to find places to eat on your lunch breaks or a park where you can get some fresh air in between cases.
Get to know the people who are drawn and jurors with you. It is a great opportunity for you to talk to people you would never otherwise meet and make friends as you sit in the room and take in all the evidence. If the case you are working on is more complicated than it first seems, you may be spending a lot of time with these people so you want to make sure that you can have fun talking to them as you work.
If you want some time to read a book, catch up on work or watch a movie in your downtime, find out if there is a quiet room in the court in which you can sit and be alone for a while. It will become the place you spend a lot of your time during your duty days. You might even find that the room has a coffee machine for you to make yourself a drink.
It can feel like a huge responsibility to be called for jury duty, and you may be incredibly nervous and feel like you can’t handle it, but in reality, you are only going to be there for a few days and you’ll be doing a huge service to the public. Think about the positive side of being in the courtroom, you’ll finally be able to live one of those courtroom dramas you love to watch, and you can also get to listen to some really interesting cases, and have the chance to either put a criminal away where they belong or release someone who has been wrongly accused of the crime. The power you have to change these people’s lives may sound scary, but as long as you listen to all of the evidence and be clever about it you can do great things for your country. And remember, you will get paid for the experience and the service you provide, so it’s a win-win really.
Remember to take breaks and look after yourself. You will be spending a lot of time sitting down in the room conferring with the other jurors on the panel and hunching over papers. During the breaks you have, you will need to get your legs moving and get some fresh air to keep you awake and your muscles healthy and moving. Make sure you bring a large bottle of water with you to sip on throughout the day so that you don’t become dehydrated and develop a headache. And finally, if you have the time to go out and run in the morning or do some yoga before you leave, this will keep your body awake and energised for the long day ahead.
Try and think on the positive side and how much you will learn while you are in court. You may have seen snippets on the TV of how a courtroom really works, but it is not until you are sitting in the room that you’ll really understand the process. You may find that you learn some really interesting things about the judicial process and how everything works as you are in there.
Finally, make sure that you look after your mental health throughout the process of being a juror on the panel. Witnessing criminals, graphic evidence and testimonies may be quite sobering, and it can bring your mental state down if you are staring at the same evidence for days on end. It could even trigger illnesses such as anxiety and depression, so be aware to make time for your mind as well as your body. Take some time at the end of the few days to pamper yourself, put on a funny film and stay happy. Try to take some time to meditate each morning before you go into the courtroom to clear your mind. You will also be offered counselling services by the court after your jury duty is over.
Extra Tips and Advice
· Make sure that you are honest when you are selected for jury duty. If you suffer from extreme anxiety or have another reason which you cannot take part, make sure you let the court know so they can pick somebody else instead. Some people will be automatically exempt so make sure you let the court know if you really can’t go through with it.
· Don’t lie in order to be placed on jury duty, or to even get out of doing it. Make sure that you only get out of it if you have a genuine reason not to go.
· The payment you will receive for taking part in jury duty may be small, but you don’t need to claim tax for it. So consider the time you give up and think on a positive note that you won’t have to pay any of it back, and at the end of the week you can treat yourself to a meal or a bottle of wine with your loved ones.
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