Got on the train at new Brighton. Just before we were due to go, all the lights went out. The train went nowhere. Eventually, a guard came through the train explaining that there were children on the line near grove road, and that the power had been turned off. It took around an hour for the service to be resumed. So I got to Liverpool crown court at about 10:30, about an hour late. No problem. I had phoned the court to explain my situation, and they said that was ok.
Finding the right entrance took a bit of exploring and several wrong doors. I was scanned and someone came down and took me up to the jurors bit of the court. A big concourse filed with chairs and tables. A small cafe charged too much for food and drink. Toilets, wifi that I can't get on, and games books and magazines all available . Expenses are complicated because I am self employed.
And now I wait. There is a rooftop outdoor area where you can't smoke. It does not explicitly prohibit vaping though, so I will go outside from time to time and vape away unless someone tells me not to. You can see Birkenhead through a gap in the glass walled blocks. There is quite a lot of construction going on in Liverpool. Cranes punctuate the skyline, their jibs maneuvering girders and buckets of concrete. Window cleaners clean windows, fearless in their cradles.
It's interesting to people watch. People are sat by themselves, plugged in to some mobile thing or other, or they read. Many wear headphones. Some people have formed into groups. They talk, laugh. Occasionally there is an announcement over the speakers. Everyone goes quiet. Sometimes it's an explanation of something. Occasionally, it's to call a list of people into court. Everyone listens carefully. My name has not been called yet.
Another list of names. Mine is not among them. And again.
And then it is. Twenty five of us are led up to an empty courtroom. 18 men and 7 women. We are given pens and notepads. There are bibles with oath cards before us. An usher gives each of us a questionnaire. This tells us a little about the case, and asks us if we know any of the people involved. It informs us that the trial is expected to last for about two weeks, but with an outside chance of a further, third week. It will involve reading a lot of financial documents.
A fraud case then. No murders or rapes or anything that will require us to see pictures of mutilated babies or hear distressing accounts of screams and sudden appalling silences.
The twenty five of us are led to another court room. A bewigged judge thanks us for our attendance. We look at the defendant and he looks at us. We do not know each other. A couple of us are excused as they have some connection with the plaintiff. Another because he might have struggled to understand the complexities of the documentation .
A court official shuffles the remaining names. I am the second person to be called. After the twelve seats are filled, a further three names are called. Reserves. One of us good people and true might break a leg. Everyone but me swears to be a good juror on the bible. I am the sole affirmer. By now it's about one o'clock . We adjourn for lunch with instructions to return by 2:15.
I am back in the jury concourse , with a belly full of crisps and sandwich from tesco. More people are talking now. They've had time to break down barriers. The boredom unites them. They have something in common to talk about. It is two o'clock . Almost time.
And of the afternoons events, I can't say too much. It was taken up almost entirely by a monologue from the crown prosecutor setting out its side of the story. We had big ring binders with all sorts of documentary evidence in them, and we were directed to particular sections and pages from time to time. The prosecutor was finished by around twenty to four, and after the judge had gone through what had been said, we were free to go.
On that basis, without hearing the defence, the bastard is guilty as hell.
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