Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Generous jurors! - Hundreds fail to collect for jury duty

Published:Sunday | January 22, 2017 | 1:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
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The Court Management Services (CMS) is holding approximately 500 cheques totalling millions of dollars, which have not been collected by persons who have served as jurors in courts across the island.

Principal executive officer at CMS, Carol Hughes, last week issued a plea for Jamaicans who have served as jurors four or more months ago to call the organisation's account department to collect their cheques, which are sitting in her office.

"Some jurors don't put their telephone numbers on and, therefore, we can't reach them; some have changed their telephone numbers, so when we call the numbers that they give, we can't reach them either. Some migrate, some even died and some addresses are changed, and so on," said Hughes.

She told The Sunday Gleaner that the CMS made a similar appeal last year and several persons came to collect their cheques, but others scoffed at the amount upon making enquiries and didn't bother to collect.

"There are people who say they are not coming to get the cheques when they hear it is just for $2,000 or $4,000, because you do have some cases that just last for one or two days," said Hughes, as she noted that some persons who served as jurors have indicated that it would cost them too much to travel to collect the cheques.

According to Hughes, some persons also complain about the bank fees to cash their cheques.

"It doesn't make sense for them to cash them, so they don't bother to collect them."

 

Complaints about long wait

 

Jurors are to be paid $2,000 per day for their services, but there have been several complaints about the long wait at times to actually collect payment.

Clarendon resident Kenneth Campbell last week said he is yet to receive payment after serving more than a year ago at what was then the Clarendon Resident Magistrate's Court.

"Nobody not really saying anything to us because every time we go and check it out, nobody don't get any pay. Seven of us worked and none of us got paid," Campbell told The Sunday Gleaner.

Campbell, who is self-employed, said he served from July 13-31, 2015.

He said while he understands that it is his civic duty and he appreciated the experience of learning about the court system, he is tired of being given the runaround whenever he calls to enquire about payment.

According to Campbell, he is always told the money hasn't reached yet when he visits the court office.

"You can't work so long and know that you are working and you put away your work and how many days you waste and you lose some jobs and them way there, and then at the same time, when you are supposed to get a little change from it, nothing not going on," said Campbell.

The tradesman, who primarily does carpentry and construction work, said several jobs came his way during the two weeks he did jury duties. He said he could have easily made $4,000 per day from working.

"It's not like you are working with a government service because I am self-employed, and you get a work and you give it up just to go," said Campbell.

"They want you to come and serve all the time, and at the same time they are talking about if you don't come, you can be penalised, or be fined or go to prison or whatever."

 

Received another summons

 

Campbell said he received another summons about six months later to serve again, but he wrote a letter to say he could not go.

"The fact is, when you done work, you are supposed to get paid," fumed Campbell.

But Hughes said the Clarendon Resident Magistrate's Court is a special case with particular challenges which are being addressed.

"The court administrator is pretty new, and when he went there, he found a number of forms that unfortunately had not been processed, so he had to deal with a backlog of a number of cheques.

"He said nearly 200 forms had not been processed, so he has been trying to bring that down, and he has done that. I think Clarendon is probably the worse off," said Hughes.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com