Another good judge

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.


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  • Lunaran

    About fucking time fuctards like this make a mockery of the whole thing now if they could pay me 2G a day id do jury service all day every day ….. and im not biased they are all fucking guilty hahhaha

  • Rex Widerstrom

    The only “time waster” I see here is the state, which demands that this guy waste his employer’s time while recompensing the employer not at all and the employee with a pittance.

    If I had a large engineering project at a crucial stage and an engineer announced he was leaving indefinitely to sit on a jury I’d be pissed off and I believe rightly so. Anything from progress payments from the client (vital to the company’s cashflow and to the livelihood of subcontractors) to the future of the project might be jeopardised by the capricious nature of the jury pool process.

    Most businesses have some capacity to plan workflow and know when they’re going to be busy and when it’s more likely to be slow. What’s wrong with sending someone a letter now telling them they’ve been selected for jury duty next year, and they’re to respond with, say, two or three two-week blocks in which they can make themselves available? That could then be done in consultation with the employer. And even if things changed, at least the employer has plenty of notice that he’ll be down one engineer.

    Then pay the juror a fee based on his or her income over the past 12 months, allowing the employer to use the wages they’d have paid the absent employee to hire a temp.

    At the same time, the criteria for exemptions could then be toughened up. The end result would be more certainty for the courts, employers, and potential jurors.

  • Axjarv

    Fine for the Judge on $2k a day and the lawyers probably on legal aid at $250 an hour while the juror’s get about $30 a day plus parking.
    The sentence is just wrong – apparently you can be less tha forthcoming with facts that cost people millions (Doug Graeme and others) and be found quilty for it and get home detention. Annoy a self righteous judge and get 10 days in jail. I’m probably now in contempt of court for having a contrary opinion and can expect a knock on the door.
    It is time we had professional jurors as the only people with the time otherwise are the unemployed and retired.

  • John Q Public

    I was asked for the first time in my 40 odd years, about a year ago. I wouldn’t have minded doing it, only a three week trial was about to start, and three weeks without $ was not going to happen. I was all ready with the “lets get this brown bastard in the dock” demeanor, hoping they’d boot me out of selection possibility, when the guy plead guilty at the last minute and we all went home. Pay jurors decent coin and the problem will go away.

  • opusx

    Interesting this one. I have nothing but contempt for the Court. To have someone I regard as pond scum telling me I’m not doing my civic duty would be farcical in the extreme. My guess is this Judge honestly believes he’s an upstanding member of society. Sheltered lives they lead that lot.

  • opusx

    Ummm…Cam, last year you gave this same Judge a thrashing for giving home d to a kiddie basher.

  • geoff

    What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.
    So how come Justice Potter aborted a trial a while back because she had apparently had a holiday booked and gets away with it?

  • Rodger T

    Just a shame these pompous old windbags `aint quite so tough when it comes to dealing with the real criminals.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Why do the Courts pick on busy people when there are plenty of unemployed layabouts to choose from? Anyway, a crim should be judged by his peers

  • motorizer

    the fact is you have weeks in advance to write a letter to the court to explaain that you cant serve on a jury. he fucked around and thats what you get.

    and another thing…. we need working people on the jury not deadbeats on the dole who fall asleep. if you dont like it piss off to a place with no society. go be a green. its exactly what they would want.

    • opusx

      How are you supposed to respect the Courts when the general feeling of NZ society is that justice is very rarely served. If the system was more transparent, Judges were held accountable for their decisions (and why shouldn’t they be? They are paid by the public coffers, every other State employee is accountable for their actions and decision making. Seriously, what makes the Judiciary so special?). Remember the Judicial pay scale is pretty high, and if accountability is not part of the condition of employment, you have an old boys (and girls) club that is only answerable upon Ministerial inquiry. And remembering the public ‘pay their wages’, just like Police, health workers and teachers, I personally find their cronyism unacceptable. And yes, you are right, we should be a LOT more positive about the system, but after spending 12 years working in it, and having my respect for it ground to a nub, I believe I am qualified to say at the moment the system is bullshit.

      • motorizer

        yeah. we should throw it away.

        • opusx

          No…just make it transparent…and all parties involved in the process accountable, from the Police right up to the Judiciary. I mean look at Peter Ellis..the Police should have been hammered over that one. The outcome of that case was not the fault of the Judiciary, but rather one of a malicious prosecution. And public hysteria..and an over zealous Mayor, and a whole lot more. The system learnt from that one and such a prosecution could never happen again without the proper care taken to gather evidence…but where does that leave the biggest victim in the Ellis case, being Peter himself?