Court gets jury after 64 tries

Firearms trial to start Tuesday

More than 60 people were called
last week before seven were selected to serve as jurors in a Grand Court trial involving possession of
unlicensed firearms. Court staff members were required to go outside the Law
Courts Building three times in order to find a sufficient number of eligible
people to be on the jury.

The Judicature Law provides for the
selection of talesmen when the number
of jurors available is for any reason reduced below the number required.

Proceedings began last Tuesday,
when 44 potential jurors attended, out of whom four were selected. The case
involves four defendants, each of whom had the right to challenge up to five jurors
without giving any reason. The Crown had five challenges per defendant, for a
total of 20.

Justice Charles Quin told potential
jurors to let him know if they were relatives or close friends of any of the
defendants or witnesses. The test was whether the relationship was such that it
would prevent the person from being objective.

The defendants are Keith Bryan
Orrett, 41; Brian Emmanuel Borden, 24; Bjorn Connery Ebanks, 25; and Keith
Rohan Montaque, 21.

After the initial pool was
exhausted, court staff found nine eligible people in downtown George Town. From that nine, two were chosen
and the others challenged. That left the jury one short.

Justice Quin adjourned for the
lunch break, during which court staff found another eight people. Three of them
were called before the fourth, a young man, went unchallenged and declared no pertinent
relationships.

The jury was then released until
10am Thursday. On Thursday, one of the women who had been selected from a pool
of the talesmen told the court that her illnesses prevented her from being on
the jury. Justice Quin released her, with the condition that she submit a doctor’s
note.

Meanwhile, court staff found additional
talesmen. The first said she was related to one of the defendants and the next
five were challenged. Number seven was acceptable to everyone and claimed no
relationship; he became the seventh juror.

The jury was then put in charge of
the defendants and requested to return for the start of the trial on Tuesday,
23 February.

An informal count during the jury
selection shows Justice Quin
excusing 24 people, the Crown challenging 12, and attorneys for the defendants
collectively challenging the rest.

Every person whose name appears on
the most recent Register of Voters and who has not yet reached the age of 60 is
liable to serve on juries.  Exemptions
are given on the basis of occupation, including Members of the Legislative
Assembly and Judiciary; Justice of the Peace; ministers of religion; attorneys
and court officers; medical practitioners;
constables and registrars.

Another exemption from jury duty is
given to “persons who, by reason of poverty, are unable to attend”.

Anyone convicted of an offence for
which the sentence was a prison term is disqualified from serving on a jury
unless he or she has received a free pardon.

The Judicature Law provides for
between 72 and 124 eligible people to be summoned for each criminal session of
the Grand Court.
Those summoned should not have served in the last six sessions. The effect is
that, once someone has served for a session, it should be two years before that
person could be called upon again.

Failure to answer a jury summons is
an offence for which the penalty is a fine of $500.

Talesmen who refuse to serve are
guilty of an offence, for which the fine is $30.