I sometimes teach the Young Law course at the school so, I thought I’d write a post about an experience I had recently. This text contains a lot of legal vocabulary so, if you are not familiar with law, look at my use of the past tense or how I use the passive in the first 2 paragraphs to describe my experience.
I spent a bit of time away from work recently, as I was summoned to do Jury Service. I had to attend a London crown court on Monday morning, sign in and wait to be put on a trial. Jury Service is a civic duty in the UK and all citizens over 18 may be called. I had to wait a while but eventually I was put on a trial. I was taken to a courtroom and I had to affirm that I would judge the facts I was presented with honestly and fairly. I felt quite nervous at this stage but I was sworn in and became a member of the 12 person jury.
The case began and it was a GBH case. I was being asked to judge whether someone attacked and seriously injured someone else. The case for the prosecution was presented first and various witnesses were called to the stand and questioned by the prosecution barrister in the examination in chief. This was followed by cross examination by the defence barrister. A few times the jury was asked to leave the courtroom while the judge and barristers discussed points of law. We heard the case for the defence and the judge summed the case up and advised us on the law.
We retired to consider our verdict and after a lot of discussion, we reached a unanimous decision. We went back into the courtroom and the foreman of the jury delivered the verdict. I‘m not allowed to say whether it was guilty or not guilty, but I can say that it was all very interesting and I learnt a lot about our legal system and what it’s like to be in a courtroom.
- to be summoned – (v) often passive to be called to be present
- to be put on a trial – (col.) to be selected for a position on a jury in a court case
- a civic duty – (n) a responsibility of a citizen of a country
- to affirm – (v) to state something before a court without taking an oath on a religious book
- to be sworn in – (v) often passive to be bound to a court by oath
- a GBH case – (n) grievous bodily harm - serious injury from a physical attack
- the case for the prosecution – (n phr.) legal proceedings brought by the state against a person.
- witnesses were called to the stand – (phr.) people who saw the crime were called to give evidence
- the prosecution barrister – (n) the lawyer in court who represents the state
- examination in chief – (phr.) the part of the trial where the prosecution questions their own witness
- cross examination – (phr.) the part of the trial where the defence questions the prosecution witness
- points of law – (n phr.) questions in the case about what the law is
- to sum up the case – (v phr.) to give a summary of the facts presented
- to retire to consider the verdict – (v phr.) to leave the courtroom to make a decision on a person’s guilt
- a unanimous decision – (n) a decision everybody agreed with
- the foreman of the jury – (n phr.) the person who leads the discussion and gives the verdict in court
- guilty or not guilty – (phr.) the decision by the court stating whether somebody did the crime or not
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