Murder trial stretches jury panel to limits

| 18/03/2014

(CNS): The issues relating to Cayman's limited jury pool were highlighted this week in the Grand Court when the current jury panel was exhausted to its limits during the selection of twelve men and women to serve in a murder case. Raziel Jeffers (29) is charged with the killing of Damion Ming in a West Bay yard in March 2010, and given the long list of witnesses in the case as well the number of people who know the defendant, many people were unable to serve. After the more than two hour long process on Monday challenges from the crown and defence, coupled with family ties and connections with potential jurors, the court had just eleven people for what should be a twelve strong jury.

As a result, on Tuesday jurors from the next jury panel, who were not due to be called until April, were called up and eventually, after just two challenges, a twelfth juror was selected. The five women and seven men were eventually formally impanelled and a foreman selected ahead of the trial, which was opened by Andrew Radcliffe, QC, for the crown Tuesday before visiting UK judge Justice Malcolm Swift.

Jeffers is represented by Michael Wolkind, QC, from the UK instructed by Fiona Robertson from Samson and McGrath. The trial is taking place in Grand Court One and is set down for three weeks.

This is not the first time that the courts have faced difficulties selecting juries where cases involve well known defendants or long lists of witnesses, as a result of the limited number of people in Cayman who qualify to serve as jurors and the size of the jurisdiction.

The local authorities have frequently discussed the possibility of widening the potential pool of jurors beyond the electoral roll, which forms the primary basis for those qualified to serve and to remove some of the professions which are restricted. Suggestions about allowing permanent residents to serve on juries raised concerns, however, because ofthe fundamental principle of being tried by a jury of one's peers.

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Category: Crime

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm a born Caymanian, with no criminal convictions, lived here all my life and 50 years old.

    I was 48 before ever being called to be a juror?

  2. Anonymous says:

    "Suggestions about allowing permanent residents to serve on juries raised concerns, however, because of the fundamental principle of being tried by a jury of one's peers."  ???? That makes no sense.  What if a permanent resident is on trial?  By the logic of this argument none of the jurors would be his peer.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are from Canada and committ a crime in France.  Do you expect to have france bring in a ghroup of Canadians to be your jury?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, but the belief that a jury with a permanent resident in it would not be a jury of a Caymanian's peers is complete nonsense and that was the point that was being made.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Don't they continue to search the registered voters list to determine whether they can find suitable jurors which  aren't related to and or connected to the individuals in the case? Or do they just go through the process once and say "ok we didn't find anyone suitable"  it doesn't appear that they tried too hard. 

    Even the professions that are restricted. How do they know what profession they are in? When I originally completed my application sometime ago I was a student. I am now working. I have never been called. I educated myself through distance learning. During my time as a student I could have been a juror. Unless student is a restricted profession.  

    I did a quick survey around the office and out of the 10 registered voters not one has ever been summoned for jury duty. 

    Was there any real effort made to get the correct number of suitable jurors? 

  4. Answers and Solutions!!! says:

    Not that I am lookinf forward to it, but I have never been contacted as a potential juror since obtaining my Caymanian Status through marriage in 2007.  Is the jury pool updated per the elections registration?

    • Anonymous says:

      Neither have I. The speed of the Courts system may be an indication of why, they are probably using a 1990 electoral roll

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don't understand how this difficulty exists. I am on the electoral roll and I have never been called. I do not think that I am on the list of restricted professions as my coworkers are repeatedly on jury duty. I don't know any of the individuals that are connected.  I also know many others that would not know any of these individuals or the witnesses  unless there is an age restriction.  Are retired individuals restricted?  There was a large turnout for the elections last time. Is it really possible that with the number of newly made Caymanians that qualify for and are on the electoral roll there are only 11 that don't know any of these individuals related to this crime? 

    What are the restricted professions? Why hasn't the entire electoral roll been utilized?