LETTER: Serving on a jury

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The Independent Online
From Ms Valerie Maddison

Sir: Having read Polly Toynbee's article on jury service (Section Two, 8 February) I would like to share my experiences. I undertook jury service last July. I had been allowed to defer my service from May, when I had a holiday booked. I was not excused service altogether. Young women with children were not exempt, but childcare costs were met. We were told 100 people are contacted every two weeks and it is difficult to find 30 or 40 who are willing or available to serve.

It was obvious from the people present that the moneyed middle class, of which Wiltshire can boast a fair population, were conspicuous by their absence. Although, if you are to be judged by your peers, the people in the dock should have been reasonably satisfied. The court ushers made every effort to make our two weeks as painless as possible and by judicious juggling most people only had to attend four or five days out of the 10.

The whole court procedure was interesting and informative and it was fascinating that 12 randomly selected people could sit together in a room and indulge in good, serious, old-fashioned discussion. Altogether, it was a very educational and worthwhile experience.

Yours faithfully,

Valerie Maddison

Semington, Wiltshire