Speaking in the senate on Tuesday, Chote said citizens should be afforded the right to exercise their civic and civil life and the way they are permitted to do such, is by ensuring jury service.
The senior counsel also noted that jurors are not responsible for problems in the judicial system, stating that they do not hamper the dispensation of justice. She also denied Attorney General Faris Al Rawi’s claim that the continuation of the jury system as is, will have a negative effect on the country’s workforce.
“Juries are called on the first working day of each month. Usually, before that date, those who wish to be exempted have been exempted. There may be a few on that first day who have applications based on recent developments and those are quickly dealt with. The role is called and if a case is able to go on, then a jury panel is selected. If the judge is going to hear legal arguments as is often the case, the judge sends the jury away back to their workplaces and the judge asks them to return on a date when the case is likely to continue so you do not have this massive loss of manpower hours that you are talking about.”
The Independent Senator also explained that there aren’t enough judges in the criminal assize. She says at this point, the judiciary has nine spaces for judges and hundreds of cases pending which could lead to an ‘overload’. She also criticized the AG who referred to two instances where jurors were sequestered in 2011 and 2012. She says these cases of jury tampering were exceptions.
“It is not common practice for jurors to be sequestered in criminal trials and even in high-profile criminal trials in this country so whatever the cost was in 2011, I don’t see that that, six years later, is a good indicator to us as to how much value we should place on that dollar figure.”
SC Chote also said she did not get the point on how much money is spent paying lawyers in this case. She says the amount of savings the AG proposed is ‘unrealistic’ and doesn’t reflect the true position. She also noted that another possible con is that judges coming from the prosecution alone, in this particular Bill, may have a biased opinion on cases because they may not be able to relate with the defendant. She added that defendants are actually unlikely to request a trial by judge alone as opposed to standing before a jury of their peers.