PRs proposed for jury duty

| 31/03/2011

(CNS): The government is considering expanding the jury pool to include people who cannot vote. A new bill proposes to add permanent residents and Caymanian status holders (with or without naturalisation) as well as reducing the list of exempted professions and people. Members of the public are being asked to submit comments to the Attorney General’s Office for the Judicature Amendment Bill 2011, which suggests widening the list of persons eligible to serve as jurors in the Cayman Islands courts beyond the registered voters list. At this year’s official opening of the Grand Court the chief justice had drawn attention to the difficulties of finding people to serve on juries because of fear of intimidation or worse.

Rather than attempting to eliminate jury trials, as law enforcement officials had suggested last year, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie suggested that expanding the pool would be a more appropriate and just solution.

He said the legal profession was advising that the roll of jurors be widened from the voters list at present to include all adult persons lawfully resident in the Islands. “This would not only greatly increase the number of potential jurors, it would also spread all the burdens and responsibilities of jury duty across that wider base,” the country’s top judge had stated. “And it follows, there would be even less to be gained for those with criminal intentions in seeking to intimidate jurors, if they were assured that the society at large refuses to be intimidated.”

There are only 15,267 people on electoral list, which is just over a quarter of the current population of almost 55,000 people, as revealed by the preliminary census results earlier this month. From those who are eligible as voters, people over sixty are excluded as well as doctors and lawyers and even poor people, reducing the available pool by thousands.

Currently the governor, politicians, magistrates and justices of the peace, recognised pastors and ministers of religion, people working at the courts, medical practitioners, police officers and registrars are exempted, as well as those who can’t attend by reasons of poverty. People previously convicted before any court of an offence for which they were sentenced to prison and who have not received a pardon also cannot serve.

Officials are now considering removing some of the exemptions as well as including all permanent residents and increasing the current age limit from 60 to 70 years old. Lawyers too are being considered for inclusion, exempting only those attorneys who are actively engaged in litigation. The proposed bill further suggests remove the exemption for medical practitioners, registrars of land, births, marriages and death and those exempted by reason of poverty.

While the suggestion to widen the pool has been welcomed in some quarters of the community as a sensible solution, in particular increasing the age limit and removing some of the professional exemptions, the suggestion of adding permanent residents to the pool has, however, raised the question of their lack of democratic rights. The responsibility of serving on a jury works, in most democratic jurisdictions,hand in hand with the right to vote.

Anyone wishing to add their thoughts to the bill still being drafted should contact Tesia Scott in the Attorney General’s Chambers, 4th Floor, Government Administration Building or by email tesia.scott@gov.ky by Friday, 6 May.

See draft amendment bill below.

Category: Headline News

Comments (40)

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  1. ANONYMOUS says:

    A question to the brilliant minds behind this proposal. !

    Do these PR holders for jury duty have to apply for a new work permit or a variance to their existing work permit.

    I would presume that the Legal department would pay for the filing fees etc. What about the pay should their employer not pay them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a good idea to me!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is this idea at having residents with PR serving on jury duty an attempt to fix the jury system in the country?

    Fear of intimidation, friends or family ties will no longer have an effect when a group of jury members with PR hear a case.

    Please do no ignore the current intimidation factor which exists in trials within the country.

    It is interesting when the Caymanian nationalism speaks and chooses to ignore the underlying problem for which this change it attempting to resolve.

    Keep the system as it is and keep finding them innocent and keep the criminals on the streets , they will only get more bold and Denny can call for more guns.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: Fear of intimidation, friends or family ties will no longer have an effect when a group of jury members with PR hear a case.”

      Unless you’re a criminal, you don’t need to fear me.  I’ll be the first person to defend your civic rights, inside and outside the courtroom, because it’s the right thing to do.  In fact, criminals attempting to intimidate me into not protecting your rights might find it to be an expensive and inconvenient exercise.  Crime must always be an unprofitable business.

      If I was in charge, criminals would not be terrorizing residents or visitors.

      You appear to be suggesting that those with PR are humans with morals superior to all the natives in this polity you want to join…  Maybe you will understand how meaningless the term “Caymanian” is becoming, when you become one.  Or perhaps, your goals are purely financial and you will have your own “ties”…, regardless of whether the term “Caymanian” means anything or not.

      A non-Caymanian without voting rights, do not and should not ever have a right to sit as juror.  When you become Caymanian with the right to vote, I will happily defend your right to be a juror.

      This is simply a political trick to weaken the voice of the natives at the General Elections in 2013 and beyond.  Caymanians make sure you know what your MLA’s personal views are on this matter, because that is the position he or she will most likely support in the LA.

  4. ANONYMOUS says:

    Never heard more nonsense about the expansion of the jury pool.

    For example, to include health care personal in the pool– I do hope they realise the implications on health care services including cancellation of surgeries etc for example. As it is , we public keep complain about the accessability and delay in getting a health service. Now to add to that, should we as patients get hurt with this delay when their doctor is on jury duty, do we include the legal department in any lawsuit.

    From brilliant legalminds come brilliant ideas

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right! It is obvious that little thought has been given this. If they had our health care professionals would not even be considered. This is lunacy.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. The same people always getting called to jury duty repeatedly. 2. Other eligible jurers never being called. 3. Rigorous enforcment of parking violations on jury duty days. 4. limit people’s right to use of jury option. 5. allow non voters to serve on jury.

      is this starting to look like a coordinated strategy?

  5. nauticalone says:

    One other matter for sure that desperately needs to be rectified urgently is PARKING!

    Politicians have the entire LA Bldg and now a significant part of the Library parking lot ALL to themselves (for the decreasing amount of time they are even on island) while regular people (including jurors and prospective jurors….sometimes over 100 persons) are expected to “find your own parking” downtown at 9am….after re-arranging personal schedules to suit.
    For an island/Govt. that allows politicians/law-makers to “double dip” and give themselves 20 to 35% pay raises over the past few years….and the many other perks….it’s FAR past time that Cayman have a purpose built Courts Bldg with ample parking!

    Us, the tax/fee paying residents/jurors deserve proper parking!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Get rid of the jury system and go for magistrate/advocate type trials and hearings. The judge makes the verdict under this system, no jury required. It works quite successfully in other countries.

    If there’s concern about intimidation, use a name draw mechanism from a pool of available judges to hear each case.

    A system like this puts the onus on the lawyer representing his client to be more knowledgeable with regards the finer technicalities of the law.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It follows that a person who has been granted PR has spent the requisite time in Cayman and earned the requisite points. Why not let PR holders undertake jury duty? I say do it, it would increase the pool, definitely make up for the many conflicts Caymanians might face if related to or well known by the accusedand could bring a refershing insight into the decision making process. However, if you want PR holders to take on jury duty, you have to give them the right to vote. PERIOD. You can’t impose a ‘burden’ without the requisite and balancing ‘compensation/reward’.

    • Anonymous says:

      PR holders do not possess Caymanian Status and therefore does not and should not have the right to participate in jury duty and definitely should not have the right to vote. If they are given the right to vote then what will be the difference between PR and Status? Ignorance I say.

  8. Ray says:

    I feel that this is well worth considering. PR holders are on the way to becoming Caymanians and therefore should have a vested interest in what happens in our country. If they don’t then why did they become PR holders.
    There are also many PR holders who are eligible for “The Right to be Called Caymanian”, as it is now described, but they do not do so simply to avoid possible jury duty. So not only would this increase the jury pool but it should also get them to take that next step and thus increase the voter pool. Both of those increases would be good in my opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      On first take I thought it was a good idea as well as i would like Cayman to be my home. As I gave the idea more thought I am not so sure any longer. I’ll tell you why.

      The Cayman Islands are a very small country and according to official statistics, the labour force is split almost 50/50 between Caymanians and non-Caymanians. We must also factor in that many of the numbers in the “Caymanian” catagory are not originally from here. Not too many places in the world are in this situation, and quite frankly the social pressure on the locals must be quite significant.

      Right now, a local criminal suspect is likely to face being arrested by a foreigner, prosecuted by someone from another country, and ultimately judged by yet another individual who is not originally from here. I acn’t immediately think of another country in the world where this occurs.

      This new proposal would mean an even greater extension of the above situation, with the prospect that the same Caymanian suspect could now also be judged by a jury made up of people not originally from these shores. This surely cant be right.

      15,000 voters should be more than enough eligible people for the jury pool in a country of 55,000 residents.

      • Anonymous says:

        you r absolutely right, but u forgot two additional layers which r appeal and pardon which also done by non locals. while be bicker with each other on the local airwaves others r quietly making headway.

    • Anonymous says:

      Before you start advocating for PR holders please investigate and find out how many of them have even paid the fee! Jury Duty and Voting are both rights of Caymanians or those who have had Caymanian Status (The Right to be Caymanian) bestowed upon them and SHOULD NOT be extended to PR Holders. Period! This proposal is another piece of craziness that this country does not need. No where else in this world could this type of ignorance take place.

  9. Cloud 9 says:

    No vote no rights, no Jury duty. I will do a stretch before I do that.

  10. One of the BT 5 says:

    I did jury duty 4 years ago. Am a status holder but not naturalised????

  11. Tara says:

     

    I am delighted to see this proposal moving forward.  Having served on a jury last year and having spent 3 months “on duty”, I witnessed multiple prospective jurors dismissed on the grounds that they knew someone involved in the cases put before us – on one occasion we were there for almost an hour while close to 40 prospectives were called and all subsequently excused.
     
    If a person has received permanent residency here in Cayman, it is because they have been deemed a welcome addition to these Islands due to their education and/or their involvement in the community.  As such, there are no reasons why they can’t be deemed viable candidates for jury duty and in fact in some cases perhaps better candidates than born and bred Caymanians given the conflict of close personal connections so prevalent in a small society such as ours.
  12. Whodatis says:

     I only wish the same of what has taken place, is taking place, and is being proposed to take place in the future in this country could for a single year be introduced into a country like say … Britain – actually, add Germany and Austria to that list.

    Lol!

    I kid you not – Europe would be nothing but a smouldering lump of rock! They would burn that place down to the ground by way of rioting, protests and uproar!

    Many love to come on here and voice all sorts of crap, knowing full well that it would be HELL TO PAY is the same was to take place in their own country.

    Honestly – can you imagine if Britain had to deal with a 50/50 immigration statistic?! Especially considering that their new fellow residents did not look like them or share their "cultural values"?!

    Lol!

    Look at what is taking place in Europe right now people – it is to the point where the highest elected officials have FINALLY bent to the true nature and will of the people and have uttered sentiments very close in nature what has traditionally been deemed as disgusting, xenophobic and even racist.

    The entire debacle is even more outrageous when one examines exactly how small a minority of (emigrated) people represent the point of contention.

    Can we kindly bear these things in mind as we post your offerings and opinions on issues such as the ones being raised in this thread.

    • Flossy. says:

      WHODATIS

      You spurt forth utter crap sometimes.

      • Anonymous says:

        But, Flossy, at least he didn’t mention the Chagos Islanders or Man Fridays this time. We must give thanks for genuine progress made.

        • Flossy. says:

          Anonymous 03/31/2011 – 15;12

          Ha,I should have noticed,but my eyes lids were starting to droop with boredom.

      • The Beaver says:

        sometimes?  how about all the time…  The Beaver

    • Whodatis says:

       @ The posters below:

      Laugh it up.

      After all, what else can one do when faced with discomforting truth?

      It is what it is folks.

      You must all be so very proud.

      :o)

  13. I'll Pay says:

    How much do I have to pay to be exempted?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Something to think about.

    PR can be revoked.

    Status can be denied

    Naturalization can be denied.

    Is it possible that a juror with PR might think about this when trying to decided for or against the Government’s counsel?

  15. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    smh!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a disgrace that they are even suggesting PR should be jury members when they have no right to vote. The government cannot carry on including ‘ex-pats’ in the affairs of this country only when it suits them and ignoring them the rest of the time. Unless expats have the right to vote they should NOT be expected to sit on a jury. It is undemocratic.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Voter registration status has no bearing on a person’s ability appropriately and competently to serve as a juror. It is sufficient that the person is a permanent member of this society.

    If they wish, permanent residents may obtain democratic rights by being naturalised and obtaining Caymanian status.

    The professional groups exempted are exempted for good reason,. namely that they are likely to exercise undue influence on the other members of the jury by virtue of their positions.

    Open the jury pool to status holders and permanent residents.

  18. CBUSH Voter Reg #2639 says:

    I’ve been a registered voter for the past 17 years and not once have I been called for jury duty…not once! Yet I know of persons who are called repeatedly. I believe the problem has nothing to do with the numbers that are available but more with the selection process. I do not agree with allowing non voters to serve as jurors.

  19. Castor Canadienses says:

    Can’t vote, can’t stand for elected office, but do jury duty, eh? Something wrong with this picture?

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      This proposal is but only one step towards the goal of giving non-Caymanians the right to vote and who knows what else…  Only after they becoming a voter should it be possible for them to be a juror.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ok, so I’m not good enough for Cayman to become a permament resident due to a rediculous turn over policy but I can decide on whether all Caymanians can go to jail.

    That seems like a fair trade. How do I sign up?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you need remedial reading lessons. No one is asking work permit holders to serve on juries. PR and status holders only. And yes, that is a fair trade.

  21. Anonymous says:

    A good idea. And about time. A country of 55,000 with a jury pool of 15,000 simply doesn’t make sense.

  22. Good idea says:

     I welcome this idea.  I’ve been here for over 15 years and have my Caymanian status.  I’ve not been naturalized and cannot yet vote, but I certainly know enough about the islands (all three) to serve on a jury.  

    I am a white collar upstanding member of the community, married to an upstanding 6th generation Caymanian.  

    I work with three well known charities, volunteer my time and services in our community, and would be the right choice as a juror.  I am honest and fair (and have to say this…."I don’t CARE if "HE" was a good boy when he was 12 yrs old and know his mamma, if you are caught in a crime and I am on the jury, you WILL DO TIME.)

    • Rorschach says:

      Wow….Impartial much????  NOT!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to go to Mac with some of your ideas. lol. I always thought that the jury was supposed to determine guilt or innocence, NOT sentence them. But this could dovetail nicely with Mac’s ideas about criminals not being entitled to legal aid. We could get rid of the judges as well, and just have a jury find them guilty and issue the sentence immediately.