J is for Jury Service

The present use of jury trial emerged from the ancient system of justice in which local people were charged to attend the Hundred courts and attest to misdemeanours in their areas. Later, the system emerged by which local people were chosen from each part of the Hundred and a jury, usually of 12, was chosen from these men (and they were always men). This was the system at the Halmote courts as well as Assizes and Quarter Sessions.

The Act for the Better Regulation of Juries 1730 described who was eligible for jury service and a list of those eligible was to be published in each parish. Jury members would be selected randomly, by lot, from these lists. Then as now the middle class sought to evade their responsibilities for jury service (either by imputing the integrity of the officials or by paying others to serve for them) and this Act aimed to reduce this. People continued to try and avoid jury service on the grounds of the essential nature of their work or the detrimental effect on their business until this exclusion was further tightened in 1997.

I managed to avoid jury service on the grounds of breastfeeding and have never been called back!.