Juror Ejected Because Of Wheelchair Access Barriers
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 16, 2005
LEEDS, ENGLAND--A circuit court judge explained Tuesday why he dismissed a juror who uses a wheelchair from a trial last month, the Press Association reported.
The unnamed female juror was released from jury duty after Judge Kerry Macgill learned that she did not stay with other jurors during breaks in testimony because her wheelchair would not fit into the usual jury areas. Instead, she was left out in the public lobby where she could have overheard conversations from the defense and prosecution that the other jurors did not hear.
Macgill said he regretted having to dismiss the unnamed juror from the death by reckless driving trial, but that he felt he had no choice to release her and the other 11 jurors.
Macgill also expressed anger that the building was not accessible to that juror or future jurors that have physical disabilities.
"The Government has passed all sort of legislation which seems to have been ignored in all sorts of public buildings. She ought to be able to do her jury duty whether she is in a wheelchair or not," Macgill said as he made his decision.
"It would be a horror if in this day and age, with the money spent on buildings, if I had to tell a juror she couldnt do her duty because of a disability."
"It is a disgraceful state."
The Disability Rights Commission agreed with Macgill's assessment.
"Leeds Crown Court effectively put up a 'no entry' sign to this disabled woman by not ensuring she could be a juror," said DRC assistant director of communications Agnes Fletcher. "In effect, they were saying, 'You don't belong and can't play a full role in society'."
"Disabled people and those with long term health conditions have a right to sit on a jury like anyone else. This incident must galvanize the court into making some immediate changes to the building to ensure it is open for all."
"Judge: Accuses Court over Disabled Juror" (Press Association via The Scotsman)