Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Jury Duty/Summons

Q: Hi, I have been following your blog, it is good work, keep it up. I have a topic I cannot find out about online or from anybody I ask. How does somebody get out of jury duty? I have a friend who got a summons letter today. Thanks for any info.



A: Jury Duty should be an honour! I don't know why you would want to get out of it without a legitimate reason. Anyway, everyone is called to jury duty, even Barack Obama while he was President. I received a Jury Summons in America when I lived there, but because I wasn't born there, I didn't qualify... disappointed.

Most information about Jury Duty in Trinidad and Tobago can be found in the Jury Act - Chapter 6:53 (as amended).

Section 37 states that you will be fined and if defaulted, imprisoned for failing to respond to a Jury Summons.

Section 4 of the Act outlines the qualifications you will need to be a Juror, so not meeting the criteria will be your friend's first defence.

If he/she meets all Section 4 criteria, disqualification under Section 5 is still possible, as well as the unlikely cases in Section 17 and Section 18.

When I interned at a Law Firm in Port-of-Spain, I had to attend many cases at the Hall of Justice to see what the process is like. I remember attending the jury selection for a murder trial and 70% of the potential jurors came prepared to get out of Jury Duty, but the Judge (can't remember her name) wasn't in the mood to hear any of the excuses people were using.

The most legitimate excuses I heard and thought would work were all rebutted:
•fear for life - "There is nothing to fear"
•child care (children past the breast feeding stage) - "You will have sufficient time to make arrangements"
•living too far - "You won't be here every day and you will receive remuneration under Section 34."
•no time off (might get fired) - It's your legal obligation and you can't get fired under Section 42

I will say though, that urgent travel plans, funerals, weddings and serious illnesses are legitimate reasons, but I am in no way encouraging you to lie.

52 comments:

Wuzdescene said...

Lawd ... I have real jury service stories .... I've done it three times so far ... once I was actually thrown off a jury .... cuz I was too hotttt :-) .... fuh real .... cuz a few months after it happened .... I actually met the lawyer who 'threw me off' and I asked him why he did it .... and that's what he told me .... he said I looked like I could 'influence' the male jurors!

So da'is my two cents ... jus look hottt! :-)

Trinbago Rights said...

If that's the case, I have plenty Jury Duty to do! LOL! ;)

Anonymous said...

Question, Am I obligated to return to work after a court date if it has finished early like 11:00am?

Trinbago Rights said...

If there are no company policies, it becomes a moral question. If you were given the time off to attend, it's up to you to return to work or to go do something else. The real question would then be: Are you an honest person or not?

Anonymous said...

hey i have a question...i got married almost 2 years ago i moved from princes town to caroni and yesterday my dad got a letter saying i've been summoned in the san fernando court in september. but i dont live in that area anymore and it will be very hard for me. also im not working at the moment..could u please advise me. (and yes my address have been changed)

Trinbago Rights said...

All you have to do is contact the court to inform them of the move. They may request some kind of proof.

It's not a big deal.

Anonymous said...

hi, i recieved a phone call stating that the court issued a summons for me, but it was never served to me in person. what should i do???attend court or not??

Anonymous said...

i would like to find out why we need a jury system and if its possible we can function without one

Anonymous said...

my question is do we need a jury system? if so why/why not?

Trinbago Rights said...

Trying to get me to do your homework, eh?

I am not very convinced of its efficiency and it will take much more than an online post to explain.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to defer jury duty to another time (a year from the summons)? I am a university student and would like to finish my degree programme and graduate.

Thank you.

Trinbago Rights said...

The reasons I've heard for postponing jury duty have been if there is a holiday booked, death in the family or a very important doctor's appointment or surgery to attend.

Your reason for wanting to defer may be accepted if you're very convincing. I can't give a binary answer because it depends on the Judge.

Anonymous said...

hi

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I only now came across your blog and I really like it.
Question – I always wonder how someone is selected to be a jury. Can you volunteer? Finally can I go to a court just to view a case publicly?

Thanks.

Trinbago Rights said...

You can't volunteer to be on a jury. Yes, you can attend a public hearing at any time.

Anonymous said...

if you know know in advance and have a legitimate reason that can be offered for exemption from jury duty is there a letter that can be drafted and then presented to the judge? Also, how is this letter addressed? Thanks in advance.

Trinbago Rights said...

If you weren't served, you don't have to go.

Tasha Frank said...

I have. Question, when should a summons be delivered and if not served the right way for example 24 hrs before the court date, not in my hand am I entitled to go and what will happen after ?

Trinbago Rights said...

As long as an adult (18 or over) in your house received the summons, you are considered to be served.

If it wasn't within 24 hours and you haven't been able to make prior arrangements, you don't have to go.

Trinbago Rights said...

I am not going to give you a legitimate reason, if you have one, the court will accept it.

Address the letter to the Judge.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I have a question. If you are summoned and do not appear and then fined the $400 and you pay it, will you still be required to attend the same jury service?

Anonymous said...

Hi quick question, are jurors required to serve outside of normal working hours of 8 - 4? My 1 year old is in nursery during these hours but I still breastfeed in the mornings and evenings. Will this be an acceptable excuse?

Anonymous said...

If your name is mispelt on the sommons do u still havd to go to court or pay the finds

Trinbago Rights said...

You can beat that ticket, but you'd need a good Lawyer to highlight the officer's incometence. It'll cost you about $500, so if the ticket is over $1000, it'll be worth it.

Anonymous said...

hi I have a question if I am working in an embassy an I am call to service as a juror am I am lay off what action could the court take for me to get back my job thanks

Trinbago Rights said...

No employer would fire you for attending jury service. It's illegal

Anonymous said...

Hi could you tell me why the court take working person to do jury service and what action could be taken if I am fire from an International institute thank

Trinbago Rights said...

It's illegal to fire you for doing jury duty.

Anonymous said...

do i have to sign for receiving a summons? what proof is there that i received it other than the officer saying he delivered it?

Trinbago Rights said...

You don't have to sign. The only proof the court receives is the officer's submission.

Anonymous said...

I was called to jury service for the month of July. I went every week and a jury was never selected so we were dismissed. I'm very glad now that I did not get exempted for this session or I may have been called back for the next session starting in September. My name goes back in the pool now but hopefully I don't get summoned again.

Anonymous said...

One cannot make a human being do anything , affect how he/she thinks or to put simply to pay attention in court. You say that its an honour, but if a person does not wish to do jury duty , to make him / her do so is legal slavery! And legal bullying for that matter as you threaten fines and imprisonment and now you'll be entering into the arena of human rights violations of which this country is a party to the charter. You need to come up with a better system of selection. You say that an employer cant fire an employee for attending jury service. However an employer can fire an employee for incompetence. Incompetence which would have been caused by the employee not paying attention to their work that may have resulted from an employees absence. Small companies should be exempted . your pool should be from large corporations only that have capacity to spare. You people sit there comfortable because the Government pays your salaries. Why should companies pay an employee for not doing work . Anyway I should expect this as look at the state of our country right now . It is you lawyers who are making a mess of it . Just look at how many of our politicians have legal backgrounds. Thanks for giving me an ear.

Trinbago Rights said...

The jury system is flawed, but I don't understand how I have anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am selected as a Jury, but my boss demands that I come in after hours and week end to do my work, or else my salary will be deducted,

I have school on evenings, and weekends, and I cannot go to work, what can I do?

Trinbago Rights said...

Direct your boss to section 42 of the Jury Act. He cannot make such demands at all.

If he does, send me a private e-mail.

Anonymous said...

I just received a jury summon. I am not a Trinidadian or have a resident status. I am working in Trinidad for 4 years. Am I still qualified to be a juror? Thanks please reply.

Trinbago Rights said...

4. (1) Every person shall be qualified to be a juror who—
(a) is over the age of eighteen years and under the
age of sixty-five years;

(b) is ordinarily resident in Trinidad and Tobago;

(c) was born in Trinidad and Tobago; or, not being
so born, has resided in Trinidad and Tobago for
two years or more;

(d) is able to read and write the English language
and understand the same when spoken; and

(e) is either—
(i) seised or possessed of freehold or
leasehold interest in land of the clear
annual value of seven hundred and twenty
dollars; or
(ii) in occupation of a house which is rated or
assessed to some general or local tax on
an annual value of not less than six
hundred dollars; or
(iii) in receipt beneficially of a net
annual income of not less than three
thousand dollars

Garv685 said...

The police called me last Saturday and told me they have a summons for me to appear in court on Thursday. The officer told me he would call on Monday for the summons to be served. Today is Wednesday and He has not called since. Do I have to go to court even though the summons wasn't served but because he told me?

Trinbago Rights said...

No.

Anonymous said...

i am self employed.

how will I be exempted?

Anonymous said...

Hi i have to attend magistrates court as a witness in the inquest into the death of someone. The magistrate is trying to bring the matter to a close as it has been going on for quite a while, as a result of this the subsequent dates have been about a week apart thus far. I would like to know two things,
1. Are my employers obligated to give me time off for this matter that does not count to my normal time off associated with the employment?
2. Is my employer obligated to pay me for the days which I attend the court?

Trinbago Rights said...

1. Yes.
2. No

Unknown said...

Hi, I have been summoned to court as a witness. I was informed by my employer (very large tertiary provider) that I must apply for the day from my casual leave entitlement. Is there any act or legal document I can refer to regarding this? I personally find it strange because I am only entitled to five days per year and if this is the case and I am called as a witness more than five times, what would be the case? It's a bit unfair to the witness so I am curious. Is that the norm?

Trinbago Rights said...

There's no obligation on the employer to pay for a witness summons.

Suzette Baksh said...

Hi, can you advise if your employer have to pay you your normal salary once you are summoned for jury service?? If they are hesitating what do you do??

Syr Pand said...

n employee was subpoena'd for Jury Duty, IF he IS picked to be on the jury does he get documentation saying this so he can give it to his employer??

Trinbago Rights said...

Show them section 42(1)(b) of the Jury Act.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was summoned to Court for Jury Service in March 2016. I attended the hearing for jurors exemptions and at the time my father was in the hospital waiting for surgery. I was given a deferment until September to give an Update. MY father has since passed away but My Wife is away in Canada and just miscarried and I am in Trinidad. I wish to defer my service until next year due to me intending to go Canada to support my wife during this trying time for my family. Would I likely ge given a deferment?

Joseph Naipaul said...

Is there an act that says employers must give time off to victims or defendants

Anonymous said...

Jury duty might be an honor to some, but as a person who suppose to have a right to choose what he wants to do, why does the law says I have to do something (example Jury duty)against my will. I am force into this and threatened with imprisonment for failing to respond to a Jury Summons. The jury system should be a voluntary system and applicants can be screened to qualified. we should have the right to choose.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone say what exactly is amount of the fine if not attended?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I was summoned to be a juror and when I went the first
day it was postponed to another day and I missed it.
what would be the consequence for this and what to do?