A Jury Of Your Peers?



From top: Sean Fitzpatrick; Jobstown portest in Dublin city Centre last Summer

Developments in the trial of the ‘Jobstown 23’ – for the alleged ‘false imprisonment’ of then Tanaiste Joan Burton – have put the right to a ‘jury of your peers’ under threat.

Anonymous writes:

When the jury for Sean Fitzpatrick’s case was being selected, directions were given to jurors to exclude themselves if they had been strongly affected by the banking crisis, had been active in any campaigning groups, had been involved in anti-austerity protests, or had expressed themselves on social media about the banking crisis.

On that basis, juror 791 was excluded.

Now for the first adult false imprisonment #JobstownNotGuilty trial, the DPP is trying to stack the jury against the defendants. They have written to the seven defendants’ solicitors putting forward a proposed formula for excluding jurors, on an extraordinarily wide basis.

This includes excluding:

“People from the Jobstown/Tallaght area and people with such connections to the area as would give rise to a concern that they could not deal with the case impartially.”

“Persons who are active in any campaigning groups either for or against water charges (whether formal or informal).”

“Persons who have expressed themselves in public, whether on the Internet, in the print media (newspapers), broadast media (radio or television), on social media (including Facebook, Twitter, on-line comment pages of websites or newspapers or any other form of social media) or otherwise on publically available mediums, on issues concerning water charges and/or the events on the 15th November 2014….”

Ruling out people from Tallaght excludes a large working class community. Ruling out those active in campaigning groups for or against water charges would obviously exclude very few people on the pro-water charges side, but a large number of those against water charges.

It could even be stretched to exclude every member of a trade union, given that it is ICTU policy to oppose water charges.

Similarly, ruling out those who have expressed themselves on water charges publicly would disproportionately exclude those against water charges and younger people who are more likely to be active on social media.

What is being attempted is blatant – to exclude as many working class people and those against water charges.

On what grounds can it be suggested that people expressing views on water charges makes them incapable of being impartial in what is supposed to be a ‘false imprisonment’ trial?

Worryingly, the trial judge in court on Friday, March 31 described the DPP proposals as “very sensible”. A different judge, Judge Ryan, will make a decision on the proposal to exclude people from the jury on the first day of trial Monday April, 24.

The contrast with the Sean Fitzpatrick case should not be lost. Legally speaking, Sean Fitzpatrick and the Jobstown protesters are in the same position – they are defendants.

Yet in Fitzpatrick’s case, the jury was stacked in his favour. In the Jobstown case, the DPP is going all out to stack it against the defendants.

The difference? He’s a banker, they’re anti-austerity protesters.


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78 thoughts on “A Jury Of Your Peers?

  1. Rob_G

    There are plenty of working class people who aren’t from Tallaght, and who may in fact oppose water charges without going so far as to campaign against them on social media, who will still be eligible for jury duty.

    The contrast with the Sean Fitzpatrick case should not be lost.

    – the trial judges made similar exclusions in each case(?)

  2. This monkey's gone to heaven

    Interesting premise for article but almost as poorly written as Tony Groves’ pile of manure yesterday

  3. spudnick

    Much as I would enjoy the sight of Fitzpatrick doing porridge with prejudiced glee, this is the legal system doing its job. On both cases, they’ve clearly nailed the overriding emotive issues that would influence jurors’ impartiality. Any derivative of it being a class thing is just that, derivative.

    *rings up FG office, demands shill backpay*

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      :D The rabid right are incoherent with rage. 4 of their attack dogs in a couple of minutes but this one is by far the funniest. Great piece, Anom.

      1. spudnick

        Were you radicalised somehow during your absence? Moyest 2.0 is somehow even more angry and polarised than 1.0.

          1. spudnick

            You were over doing an internship at the Morning Star! It all makes sense now. I must report my findings to my shadowy far-right paymasters, brb

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Make sure you get it in cash. Their cheques can”t be trusted, really. Silly right wingers and their rampant fraud and fantasy economics.

          1. This monkey's gone to heaven

            Ha ha you must not have read my reply to you yesterday and there was me thinking you were hangin on my every word

      2. This monkey's gone to heaven

        The only thing more tedious than “rabid right” commenter like Clampers is a “looney left” one like Moyest. Two cheeks of the same arrrrrssse. Just go away and lie down will ya?

  4. Harry Molloy

    Standard procedure to eliminate the potential for any bias or, and this is very important, and potential for perceived bias from a jury.

    If this is not done the trial is wide open to allegations of unfairness and the potential for the entire thing to be brought down which is a waste of everyone’s time.

    This is a matter of being prudent and doing things right first time, which we should be very happy with as we have enough cause for complaint! :-)

    Let the facts speak for themselves

    1. Sam

      The facts are that Seany was charged in relation to having a hand in the banking crisis, so the jurors opinions or their experience of the fallout is directly relevant.
      The Jobstown defendants are not charged with tampering with water meters, nor refusing to pay water charges. They are charged with unlawful imprisonment.
      We don’t exclude people from serving on a jury for a rape or murder trial if they’ve ever expressed the notion that rape and murder are wrong. They can have quite strong opinions on the matter, but the trial isn’t about whether rape or murder is wrong or right, but whether the accused actually did it.
      If we were to ever put one of our government politicians before a jury , could we even find 12 people who’ve never expressed an opinion, let alone cast a vote?
      Why aren’t they excluding people who have strong opinions on AAA/ Solidarity/ Socialist Party? Surely then no FG voters , or Labour voters should be jurors, because we have to eliminate bias, right?

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Excellent post. Several people who post regularly here have proven themselves biased against the defendents but none of them would be stopped from sitting on the jury. This trial is a national scandal. We have people almost as bad, possibly worse relatively, as the Trump and Tory gangsters in the upper echelons of society here.

      2. rotide

        Sam, yes we do.

        If you are asked in Voir Dire if you think rape is wrong and you express an opinion that ‘sure the floozys are asking for it with the short dresses’, you’re going to be excluded fairly quickly.

        1. Anne

          read what he wrote again..he said we wouldn’t exclude people who thought rape was wrong. likewise people who think & have expressed an opinion that water charges are wrong shouldn’t be excluded here.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Rotide is so desperate to defend the establishment class from uppity peasants, he doesn’t even read what he’s responding to properly.

          2. rotide

            I did and he’s confused.

            He’s saying:
            “In a rape case we don’t exclude people based on whether rape is wrong.

            In a false imprisonment case we shouldn’t exclude people based on whether water charges are wrong”

            Can you see the problem here?

          3. Anne

            what are you on about? we don’t exclude people based on whether rape is wrong? That’s not what he said. Shur there wouldn’t be a trial at all if rape wasnt wrong.

            He said people arent excluded who’ve expressed an opinion that murder or rape is wrong in a rape or murder trial.

            These jury exclusions are particular excluding people who have expressed an opinion against water charges. And anyone who has a second cousin twice removed from Jobstown. It’s ridiculous.

            They might as well pick labour supporters and people from the Joan Burton fan club.

          4. rotide

            It’s a complete non-sequitor Anne.

            “He said people arent excluded who’ve expressed an opinion that murder or rape is wrong in a rape or murder trial.”

            That has no bearing on anything as the trial is not about water charges. If it was a trial about water charges, then maybe he would have a point.

            His point would make sense if he was talking about people who were excluded for having opinions on false imprisonment

          5. Listrade

            I think Rotide is technically right on this one. I like Sam’s post (agree with it in this context), but he mixes up his analogy. However, it doesn’t take away from his overall point that the case is about false imprisonment, not water charges. The valid point in the DPP’s restrictions I can see is the issue of expressing positive or negative views on the case itself.

          6. Anne

            yes it’s not about water charges but they want to exclude people who’ve expressed an opinion against water charges ..

          7. Listrade

            “yes it’s not about water charges but they want to exclude people who’ve expressed an opinion against water charges ”

            Or for water charges. The exclusion is on anyone who has expressed an opinion in public…

            “… on issues concerning water charges and/or the events on the 15th November 2014….”

            Not restricted to only against.

            Key issuing being it should only be those who have expressed an opinion on the event itself that are restricted.

          8. This monkey's gone to heaven

            @ Rotide: it’s spelled non-sequitur

            Aren’t you an editor? I recall you pontificating here about bad writing.

        2. This monkey's gone to heaven


          Jeez, some editor you are!

          And voir dire is not capitalised, usually.

  5. Vote Rep #1

    So in both cases the DPP is trying to exclude people who would have bias for or against the defendants. If anything, Seanies is far more broad. I would have thought that more than one person on the jury would have been affected by the banking crisis. Maybe the other 11 just want to find him guilty.

    1. spudnick

      Yep, I’d’ve found the urge to lie my face off and say I didn’t give a tupenny fupp about the banking crisis overwhelming, just for the chance to find ‘guilty’. Not the right thing to do, but would be hard to resist.

  6. Fact Checker

    The jury system is scarcely representative anyway of the general population.

    All juries are vastly over-populated by those with free time in working hours: retired, students and other economically inactive people.

    Even those called for service are not representative of the population because it excludes people who are not on the electoral register. There are no sanctions to my knowledge for a no-show either.

  7. jusayinlike

    The legacy of Joan “people’s champ” Burton.. and her goblin overlord Howlin..

    “The sinister fringe”
    “keyboard warriors”

  8. Andrew

    Poor article.
    As much as I abhor the Sean Fitzpatrick’s of this world, the exact same criteria is being applied. I’m not sure how the author of the piece can’t see this?
    This kind of piece demonstrated a complete lack of awareness and critical thinking.
    I would have the author on a jury of any kind

  9. DubLoony

    The basic premise of a trial is that people are judged by evidence presented in court, not swayed by outside influence.
    Publicity surrounding a trail has on occasion seen dates moved or on one occasion, forced the trail of Charlie Haughey to be abandoned because of comments from Mary Harney.

    The DPP is trying to ensure a fair trial.

    There is a large campaign that is being organised by a political party trying to influence the outcome of this trial. There are meetings, protests, posters all over the place about it. So the DPP is trying to eliminate bias. Its unusual, but so are the protests around it.

    I don’t recall similar pre-trial publicity coming from Sean Fitz.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “There is a large campaign that is being organised by a political party trying to influence the outcome of this trial.”

      This is how you describe an organisation protesting the show trial of one of its members? Party before country, eh? Labour are a disgrace to our country.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          They’re protesting a show trial. Your defence of corrupt politicial processes over justice for the people of Ireland is one of many many reasons why Labour are finished. They are a disgrace to Ireland.

          1. This monkey's gone to heaven

            How is it a “show trial”? An ordinary private citizen Minister Bruton was going about her lawful business and it is alleged she was unlawfully distrained. At the very least it warranted a criminal investigation and upon conclusion of which, the authorities decided that enough evidence was available to warrant bringing the accused perpetrators and instigators to trial. Had you been in that unfortunate position at whatever dumb and clearly, completely worthless occupation you hold (God bless your poor employers or mother, assuming you’re still living at home, which is the most likely scenario, based on a review of your recent output) would you like to be denied your right to seek justice?

          2. Rob_G

            I think that the tone of a lot of the comments in this thread amply demonstrate why they should err on the side of caution when selecting jurors for this case.

    2. Sam

      “I don’t recall similar pre-trial publicity coming from Sean Fitz.”
      In his case, the less he said the better his chances.

      In the case of the water charges it’s worth remembering that when something is official govt policy, people who agree with it are less likely to speak out about it than people who disagree with it. There will be a few people who put in a letter to the papers, but there’s no march for water charges, and most of the opinions for it will be ministers and professional column writers.

      Also, I think it bizarre to say that people from the area, or with connections to the area should be excluded, regardless of their opinions on water charges.
      I know of cases where a trial was moved to another court circuit because the incident under trial indirectly affected a major employer for the area. Joan Burton’s car being blocked in Tallaght is hardly comparable though.

      1. Rob_G

        Also, I think it bizarre to say that people from the area, or with connections to the area should be excluded…

        – I can see the rationale in this instance; given that there are a number of people from the area involved in this court, the likelihood of someone from Tallaght knowing at least one of the defendants is exponentially greater.

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          Yeah, ‘exponentially greater’, maybe, but…
          I live in the area for over 20 years so far.
          I don’t know any of the defendants. Nobody I know knows any of them.

          I’ve heard of Paul Murphy, but I’ve never met him.

        2. Listrade

          About 70,000 people live in Tallaght according to the last census. Bit of a stretch to extend the restriction to 1.5% of the population of the country on a condition that can be easily ascertained during the jury selection process anyway.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            If the establishment says something is so, the lapdogs will assume it is right and perform all sorts of mental gymnastics to come up with justifications.

    3. bisted

      …Hi DubLoony…haven’t seen you here for a while…nobody to defend the indefensible labour positions without you.

    1. Sam

      Simple is the word that came to mind when I saw your post alright, although to be fair, it was followed by a hyphen.

    2. jusayinlike

      +1 Jake, that’s exactly it, right wingers only may apply, no lefties or potential “sinister fringe” type’s from lower class area’s..

  10. Isaac B

    The point is that the bias in one trial is to operate in favour of the defendant (Sean Fitzpatrick). In the other it’s to operate against the defendants (protesters).

    1. Harry Molloy

      The point is that if bias, or a reasonable perception of bias, is alleged and accepted then the whole trial will be brought down. Even after it has occurred, then you have to go back and start over.

      It doesn’t matter who alleges bias, though if after the trial it would naturally be the one who loses.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Your flat dismissmal of the possibility of bias is bias in itself. The right wing bootlicking from you and the other minions is truly nauseating.

  11. Daisy Chainsaw

    Will they be asking people if they’re Labour voters?

    If yes, then you should be excluded because you’re biased against the defendants.

    If no, then you should be excluded because you’re biased against the alleged victim.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        To be on the safe side, veryone from the Dublin West constituency should be excluded as Joan Burton represents them.

  12. dav

    I wonder will the defendants be brought in to have a cup of tea with the prosecution and defence barristers after the case, as fitzpatick did at his original arraignment at the high court all those years ago

  13. Ivor

    Anyone from Tallaght/Jobstown is banned? Why? Because water charges are unpopular there. On that basis should they be banning people from areas where FG or Labour candidates topped a poll or just got a TD elected. How about anybody who registered with Irish Water?

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