‘Juror 791’, who is a a member of People Before profit, writes:
RTÉ reported yestertoday on TV and radio, on the selection of a jury for trial of Sean Fitzpatick. The report referred to a woman selected for the jury panel, who said loudly in court that she “most decidedly was not neutral in the case of bankers”.
Had I known RTÉ would carry my comments, I’d have made more of them.
I might have said for instance, that the criteria used to out-rule potential jurors is preposterous, excluding as it does anyone who may have “..expressed themselves in public… whether on the internet, on social media, including FaceBook…concerning Anglo Irish Bank PLC, or the banking crisis or bankers in general..”. (These are the judge’s words, not mine!).
The judge also explained that a fine of up to 2000 Euros could apply if you failed to exclude yourself from the jury if any of the following applied:
if you had been strongly affected by the banking crisis,
if you had “been active in any campaigning groups, either formal or informal”,
if you had “..been involved in protests….anti austerity protests and such like..”.
So who is left? Who has not been affected by FEMPI, or USC or cutbacks in public services, and might feel that these were connected to the banking crisis and have strong feelings about bankers as a consequence?
Or suppose you ‘liked’ a post on Facebook put up by one of those hundreds of thousands who campaigned against Water Charges or other austerity measures, or supposing, heaven forbid, you were one of those protestors. Well sorry, you just couldn’t possible be a juror then, now could you?
Does this not seem to be a very serious flaw in our justice system? If having a sense of outrage at the wrongdoing of the banking elites, or a sense of social responsibility such that you protest about injustice, or simply disagree with government policy and protest about that, that if any of this applies to you, then you are unfit as a juror.
It put me in mind of a great song years ago by the punk band Stiff Little Fingers, called “Suspect Device”. The suspect device was… a brain – you got one, don’t apply for jury duty.
Clear the court.