Caught in a legal jam? Help is at hand
I’ve been summonsed to do jury duty. Do I need to go?
Firstly, how wonderful that you might get to be a living, breathing part of the justice system at work.
We are sure you will relish the opportunity to put your common sense and experience into action in a fair and impartial manner.
If you are summonsed, it’s because your name has been selected randomly from the electoral roll, and you have completed a Prospective Juror Questionnaire.
This questionnaire is designed to determine whether you are eligible for jury service.
If you receive a summons and you are unable to attend, you can ask to be excused by writing to the Deputy Sheriff.
It is actually unlawful for an employer to dismiss you if you are unavailable for work due to serving on a jury.
Not going to court after being summonsed can carry a fine, or even worse – you may be found in contempt of court and sentenced to a period of imprisonment.
Once you attend court, there is an empanelment process, where again your name might be picked at random to actually serve on a jury.
If you are selected as a juror, you are entitled to be paid for your service and meals will be supplied to you. If necessary, you will be accommodated overnight if you’re required to be locked up while reaching a verdict.
I recently woke up after a long night on the wines to find that I had spent part of my evening “trolling” some former acquaintances. My comments were pretty harsh and, in hindsight, totally untrue. These people have now threatened to take legal action. They can’t be serious can they?
Ah yes, we all know a bottle or two can add some passion and vitriol to what might ordinarily have been a well-calculated and truthful post.
Some years ago we might have advised you not to worry, that legal actions involving social media and the law surrounding it has not yet matured. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
A former high school student was recently ordered to pay his former teacher $105,000 in damages following his posting of a number of defamatory “tweets” on twitter.
Talk about an expensive night in! In that case, and others since, the courts have made it clear that publishing on social media is no different to, say, publishing the same material in a magazine.
It is also important to note that the damage caused by defamatory posts can be exacerbated in close-knit communities such as ours and this could be factored in by a court when calculating the amount of damages to award.
To this end it is our view that the best thing you could do at this early stage is to delete the posts and send an apology to the recipients.
With a bit of luck, the recipients will forgive you and you won’t find yourself in court.
Have you got a legal question you want to ask the team? It’s completely anonymous!
Simply email editor@ whitsundaytimes.com.au and we will print your answer in next week’s paper.
LEGAL EXPERT: PD Law's criminal lawyer Elizabeth Smith can help you out of a jam.