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Advice for your first jury duty

If you're sitting there thinking "why is she writing a post about boring old jury duty instead of nail polish?" I do get where you're coming from. When I headed out for my first jury duty a few months ago I didn't plan to write a blog post about it. I planned to just do it, deliver as fair a verdict as I could and then go back to work. That was it. 

However - like almost all things in life - you learn something new or wish you had known some things sooner. While on jury duty there were s few things I wish I had known and will keep in mind if I'm called again. That moment won't come for another five years however I can share my advice with you guys in case you're called up. 

1. Iron out everything with your employer first
On my first day we were let out at 12pm. With 5 and a half hours left to the working day I wasn't sure if I should return to work. The thing is I lacked the foresight to check with my employer if I should return or not, and my manager was off that week. I went back in to be safe but it turns out if I had just taken the whole day off they wouldn't have cared all that much and would have let the courts pay me for my absence. 

2. Take an iPod/book/tablet/kindle/laptop
Unless you're lucky enough to turn up and there's a case going ahead that day and will start at half 10, chances are you'll be waiting around a long time. Use this as time to read your current book, catch up on your blog or work, read some comics, or even watch a film on your iPad (seriously, you might actually be waiting around that long). Or, as most of tweets were showing, you could just catch up on your online dating messages (and stalking hot policemen on Happn). 

3. Take some snacks
Obviously you can't snack in court but you get breaks. You'll be offered - well at least in Glasgow - tea and biscuits and then later a lunch. The lunch was actually not bad (and there was a backed potato and beans option each day - so yay for veganism!) however if you have a large appetite it might not be enough. Pack some fruit or a small sandwich. Also, if you have a big break on one of the days and pop out to buy a sandwich, you can claim this back as expenses (so keep the receipt). 

4. Suggest a secret ballot
I'm not going to reveal the verdict of the case I sat on but I'll share this. When we were discussing the verdict it appeared to be a strong majority. But when we ran a secret ballot, it was scarily close. Some people won't have the confidence to outwardly say what they're thinking so a secret ballot is the best way to deliver a fair verdict. 

5. You don't have to do it again for five years
Unless, you know, you really want to. If you've sat on a jury you don't need to again until five years have passed; you also don't need to do it for two years if you were called but weren't picked. However, a letter may arrive in your letter box calling you again. It's your responsibility to fill out the excusal form stating that it's not been long enough since you last sat on a jury. So don't be one of these people who moan about 'always being picked'. 

morag | mo adore
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