I spent some time in January doing jury duty online. I probably could have made a case to be excused but I didn’t want to.
You’ll have heard that there is a massive backlog. By establishing the UK’s first remote jury centres, from September 2020 Scotland resumed the most serious High Court trials in a covid-secure way.
We, the jury gathered in an out of town cinema to sit, socially distanced, to hear a case via live link to the court, which I think may have been in Glasgow.
The judge reminded us that this is one of the most important things you can do as part of civic society and I can add that it is also a huge credit to the Scottish Courts system that they have managed to digitally transform their operations in this way.
‘These facilities have been specifically designed to provide a safe environment for jurors during the pandemic – and support the administration of justice in relation to the most serious criminal cases.’
I was really impressed with how well organised it was, how safe I felt covid-wise and how immersive and intense the experience was despite the distance. I might even suggest that since the cinema business may never recover from this pandemic, this set up might be the way forward for jury trials of the future. The prospect of being crowded in with 14 other people cheek by jowl in a jury box for a week really does not appeal. The technology and the space afforded by the multiplex made it possible to concentrate fully on the content and conduct of the trial.
They wouldn’t let me take a picture of the AV kit in the rooms, but It wasn’t so different from what we are doing for hybrid teaching*. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elDTsKP2AU4&feature=youtu.be
We each had an individual camera so they could see us, but there is no 2-way audio link between the jury and the court. That is, they can speak to us and see us, and we can see them, but we cannot speak to the court ( except via our jury wrangler and clerk of court) .
If you get called you should definitely do it if you can.
* My excellent AV team have told me which company it is who are supplying this technology to the Scottish Courts. They are called Sparq. Virtual Court Hearings | Services | Sparq