Judge uses rare power to recruit extra juror so trial can go ahead on time

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By Thomas Connelly on

You’re empanelled: court staff roam the streets in search of jurors


A judge has invoked a rarely used power allowing him to send court staff on to the streets to recruit an extra juror so a trial could get underway on time.

Judge Andrew Barnett — relying on a power under section six of the Juries Act 1974 — sent both his clerk and usher out of Salisbury Crown Court and onto the streets, in search of a twelfth juror.

According to The Telegraph, there had been a pool of 14 jurors to select from, but after one informed the court he knew the defendant, another knew a detective who worked on the case, and a third fell ill, Barnett was left with just 11. There must be 12 jurors in place to start a crown court trial.

Undeterred, and keen to get the sex assault trial underway on schedule, Barnett sent court staff out on to the streets to hunt for a twelfth juror.

Having approached a woman shopping and a bloke on a bicycle — both of whom politely declined – they hit gold discovering a member of the public willing and able to give-up a week of their time. A further two jurors were corralled from nearby courts and the trial was able to get underway on Monday afternoon.

According to section six of the Juries Act 1974, a judge may summon “without written notice” members of the public who are in the “vicinity of the court” in “exceptional circumstances”.


A Judicial Office spokesman said:

There is a power for judges to summon people directly in exceptional circumstances if the jury is incomplete. The power is in section 6 of the Juries Act 1974. It’s a power that goes back a long way and is colloquially known as ‘praying a tales’.