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Reform of the Juries Act 1974

Comment 20th July 2010

To give the background:

I am the the Technical Manager for Medical Devices at a major UK firm supplying surgical gloves to the NHS.  I am a member of the Royal Society of Medicine and The Royal Society of Chemistry.  I am an acknowledged United Kingdom expert on medical device legislation and have lectured on the subject at the request of the Malaysian government.  I have assissted the HSE in writing critical safety documentation and regularly give advice to both the Health Service and Industrial safety equipment users that, if incorrect, could endanger their lives.

I also suffer from bipolar depression and therefore I am not considered to be mentally capable of serving on a jury.

My condition is fully controlled by the medication I take and I am entrusted with life or death situations in other spheres.  However, the blanket banning of all people being treated for a mental condition as part of the juries act 1974 means that I cannot do my civic duty in this regard.  i strongly object to this degree of disenfranchisement and feel the act should be reformed.

This argument applies equally not to a minority of the mentally unwell but to a majority.

Thank you.

Why does this matter?

The institutional discrimination against a minority group is actively prohinited in all other areas of society.  In the same way that a physically disabled person should not be excluded from conducting their civic duties because of their disability a mentally disabled individual should also not be prevented from being a full member of society uless it can be demonstrated that their ability makes them genuinely unfit for service.

As the majority of mentally disabled people are perfectly able to make measured, moral and legally complex decisions they should be allowed to do so.  Furthermore the composition of a jury is supposed to reflect that of society as a whole – the exclusion of all individuals receiving any form of treatment for mental ill health is a strong deviation from that guiding principle.

All citizens should have the right and the duty to do their civic duty and partake fully and inclusively in the affairs of their country unless it can be actively demonstrated that they are non compos mentis at the time of their calling.

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