If you’re a resident of New South Wales (NSW), you may receive a summons for jury duty. Serving on a jury in an Australian court is a civic duty that’s essential to the administration of justice in NSW.
While jury duty can be a hassle, it’s an important responsibility that should be taken seriously. In this blog, we’ll discuss the basics of jury duty in NSW, including what it is, how to be selected, and what to do if you can’t serve.
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What is a Jury in New South Wales?
A jury is a group of individuals who’re selected to hear evidence in a criminal or civil trial and make a decision based on the evidence presented.
In NSW, a jury typically consists of 12 people who are chosen at random from the electoral roll. The jury’s role is to critically understand and determine the facts of a case and apply the law as instructed by the judge.
The individuals involved in the case can be represented by a civil, criminal or business lawyer, depending on the nature of the dispute.
How does Jury Selection occur in New South Wales?
In New South Wales, jury selection is conducted by the Jury Commissioner’s office.
- Shortlisting: The process begins with the Jury Commissioner selecting a random sample of people from the electoral roll who are eligible to serve as jurors. The electoral roll is a list of people who’re registered to vote in elections, and it is used as the primary source for selecting potential jurors.
- Summoning: Once the potential jurors have been identified, they are sent a summons to appear at a specified court on a particular date. The summons provides information about the trial, including the nature of the case, the parties involved, and the expected length of the trial. It also outlines the duties and responsibilities of jurors and provides information about the compensation and allowances that are available.
- Eligibility check: When the potential jurors arrive at the court, they are required to complete a questionnaire that provides information about their background and eligibility to serve as a juror. The questionnaire encompasses a range of topics, including previous criminal convictions, employment status, and language skills.
- Final screening: After the questionnaires have been completed, the potential jurors are divided into groups and taken into the courtroom for the selection process. The judge, the prosecutor, and the defence counsel are all involved in the selection process, and they can ask questions of the potential jurors to determine their suitability for the case.
- Selection: During the selection process, the judge and legal counsel may challenge potential jurors for various reasons, including bias, conflict of interest, or lack of impartiality. Once the jury has been selected, the jurors are given instructions by the judge and sworn in. The trial can then proceed with the jury in place.
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Can I Get Out of Jury Duty in New South Wales?
In New South Wales, being selected for jury duty is a civic duty, and all eligible individuals are expected to participate in the process. However, there are specific circumstances in which you may be excused from jury duty. Let’s explore the options below.
Valid reasons can include:
- Medical condition,
- Caring for a sick family member
- An upcoming overseas trip that cannot be rescheduled.
- Financial hardship.
Apart from that, you may be ineligible for jury duty if you fall into certain categories of people who are excluded from serving. These include:
- People who have been convicted of certain criminal offences,
- Individuals with a mental or physical disability that would restrict them from carrying out their duties as a juror, and
- People who have previously served as a juror within the past three years.
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Who has a right to claim an exemption from serving as a juror?
Certain people have the right to claim an exemption from serving as a juror, including:
- Members of parliament
- Judges, magistrates, and other court officials
- Lawyers such as a company lawyer and barristers
- Medical practitioners
- Members of the clergy
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up to Jury Duty in New South Wales?
Failing to attend jury duty in NSW is a serious matter, and you could be fined up to AUD 2,200. If you don’t have a valid reason for not attending, you could also be held in contempt of court.
Being selected for jury duty is a valuable opportunity to contribute to the justice system in New South Wales. While it may be inconvenient in specific situations, it is a crucial civic duty that should be taken seriously.
Remember that if you have a valid reason for being excused, it is important to contact the Jury Services office as soon as possible. So, embrace your chance to participate in the legal process and make a difference in your community.