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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 25 March, 2018

Judge forced to abandon trial after only 25 people out of 306 requested turn up for jury service

In the case, Trevor Considine (33) of Dalcassian Drive, Ennis is pleading not guilty to a night-club assault causing harm charge.

Ennis Courthouse.
Ennis Courthouse.

A JUDGE TODAY directed that the Courts Service take action against those who do not turn up for jury service.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys made the comment after he was forced to abandon an assault trial as they were insufficient jury panellists to make up a jury of 12.

In the case, Trevor Considine (33) of Dalcassian Drive, Ennis is pleading not guilty to a night-club assault causing harm charge.

However, only 25 out of the 306 people requested to attend for jury service turned up in court today – 80 people had turned up for jury service on the first day of criminal trials on Tuesday.

Those who are successfully prosecuted for non-attendance each face fines of €500.

Judge Keys said:

If people don’t turn up for jury service, the system will come to a standstill and I would ask that the appropriate steps be taken to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Counsel for Mr Considine, Lorcan Connolly BL had earlier requested that the case be adjourned as he questioned how 25 out of 306 would be representative and provide the trial with a balanced jury.

He said:

Particularly in circumstances where those present are retirees and unemployed and it would skew the representative nature of the jury.

However, Judge Keys said that the process of impending a jury should proceed.

Over the following 15 minutes, every member of the 25 strong jury panel in the courtroom had their name called out and 11 out of the 12 places on the jury were filled.

However, the last person to be called said that she comes from the same area as the accused and knew him and Judge Keys excused her from attending.

During the selection process, the legal team for Considine exercised their right to challenge seven of the jury panel to serve on the jury while a number of others provided the court with different excuses as to why they couldn’t serve.

Judge Keys told the court:

Because of the number of absentees, we are unable to constitute a jury of 12. The trial will have to be aborted. It is very disappointing from our point of view.

He said:

From now on, there will have to be a strict process where people who do not answer to their jury summons that the Courts Service would make a complaint to the gardaí and the gardaí can then take the matter up from there and they have powers to prosecute people.
People are obliged to answer their jury summons and there are consequences for those who refuse to do so without a proper excuse.

Mr Considine was further remanded on bail to 15 May to fix a new date for trial.

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Gordon Deegan

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