People waste the court’s time all across the country, still more refuse to perform jury duty. Finally a judge has seen fit to deal to one such time waster who was taking diabolical liberties with the court.
He was supposed to be doing his civic duty and sitting on a jury – instead, James McAllister has been sentenced to prison for 10 days.
The engineering consultant was given the jail term yesterday after refusing to take the juror’s affirmation at the Auckland District Court on Wednesday.
Judge Nevin Dawson said McAllister had approached the bench to say he couldn’t sit on the jury because he was “busy at work”.
The judge did not accept the excuse and told McAllister to take his seat in the jury box.
But when it came time for the jurors to take the oath or affirmation, McAllister refused both.
“Your response was you would not be impartial because you were under duress … and you could not deliver a fair decision,” Judge Dawson said.
On Wednesday, the judge stood McAllister aside and tried to get another juror, but by that stage the jury pool had been sent home and he was forced to adjourn the trial for the day.
The trial began yesterday after a 12th juror was selected and McAllister was sent to the cells for the day, despite telling the judge he would now be able to sit on the jury.
Defence lawyer David Jones, QC, said McAllister attended court for jury service on Monday and Tuesday but was not selected.
Court staff told him there were no trials on Wednesday so he made no alternative arrangements for his demanding work schedule, including a site visit where a “near-miss” had taken place the week before.
Mr Jones said McAllister declined to hear the trial on Wednesday because the work pressures would have made him go along with what everyone else said.
“It was not a question of trying to play the system or antagonising the court – he was simply trying to be honest.”
Judge Dawson said he found McAllister had been in contempt of court twice – once for refusing to take the oath and then for offering to sit on the trial.
“Not withstanding the explanation given by Mr Jones – the details of which you did not tell me yesterday – I’m still of the view that you failed to serve your civic duty.”
Good job, let’s hope the High Court upholds it.
Now if they could deal to people using courts to pursue vexatious claims out of spite.