The Rural Juror

I spent six days at the start of this year serving as a juror at Isleworth Crown Court. I served on two trials, each lasting 2–3 days.

The few people I spoke to beforehand who have served on juries in England before all advised me to “bring a (good) book”. There was a fair bit of waiting around, but I was lucky: I spent most of my time in trials and talking to other jurors. I barely read a chapter of Extrastatecraft. As someone who works from home at least four days per week, interacts with his colleagues primarily through text and video calls, and otherwise has very little interaction with adult humans, I actually found it refreshing to have a short commute every day to an “office” where I “worked” for solid blocks of uninterrupted time and socialized with my “colleagues” in the gaps. Of course, most jobs don't let you arrive at 10am and leave at 4pm, and over time the novelty would wear off and the trade-offs would become clearer again. In any case, I'm now wondering how to get more face-to-face interactions into my working week.

It's rare for 100 grown adults to be shepherded in a room, forbidden to leave and forced to make friends: several people independently said it felt like the first day at school again. I got to know 5–10 people from a variety of backgrounds in different stages of life. I'm not sure I'll run into them again, but I had meaningful conversations and learned many things. (Did you know that Ada Lovelace, the mathematician, lived and was married in Ealing, within walking distance of me? I didn't!)

The first two people I spoke to both happened to be Oxford alumni too. Given that less than 1 of the UK population went to Oxford or Cambridge, is a jury pool with at least 3% Oxford alumni seem representative? I can't find data showing education background per region which would directly answer this, but I did find that while around 13% of the UK's population in 2011 was in Greater London, around 26% of students admitted to Oxford in 2016-2018 came from Greater London. So – yes, I think this is probably about right.