A circuit court judge and daughter of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds has called for absentee jury members to face the full rigours of the law after two scheduled court sittings in Clare were forced to adjourn.
Judge Leonie Reynolds said those who fail to co-operate with the court services and carry out their civic duty should face possible legal proceedings themselves.
“I am recommending that the people who fail to appear would be sanctioned. If people are not taking their duty seriously when called to serve on a jury then there is no other alternative and the appropriate sanction has to apply,” she said.
Judge Reynolds made her remarks at a recent sitting of Ennis Circuit Criminal Court when the trial of five men accused of violent disorder was postponed due to a lack of eligible jury members.
A total of 250 summonses were issued, but only 35 people showed up at court. As each of the five defendants due to stand trial each had the right to challenge up to seven jurors, the low number of attendees meant the entire jury panel would have, in all likelihood, been exhausted.
Forced into an adjournment, Judge Reynolds said there was little opportunity for a criminal trial to proceed when just over ten per cent of summonses are responded to. “The word needs to go out that people must answer their jury summons. We are in a situation where none of the trials listed for this week will be able to proceed and we would only be putting additional costs on the State if we adjourned until tomorrow.
“I understand it is unprecedented and that it has not happened here before but people need to be made aware that sanctions will be issued were those summoned do not appear in court. It is every person’s duty to attend,” she said.
The UCD and King’s Inns graduate received her seal of office as a circuit court judge in January 2010. Judge Reynolds was called to the bar in 1993 and spent a number of years practising mainly in the midlands courts before receiving her promotion last year.