Jury Duty in Sydney
In New South Wales, most criminal trials and some civil trials are decided by a jury. Anyone who is enrolled to vote may be called up for jury duty in Sydney and elsewhere in New South Wales, although some categories of people are exempt or excluded from performing jury duty. It is also possible to get excused from jury duty on the basis it would cause you particular hardship. Juries in NSW are regulated by the Jury Act 1977. This article outlines the laws surrounding jury duty in Sydney and elsewhere in NSW.
Can I get excused from jury duty in Sydney?
A person can be excused, either temporarily or permanently, from performing jury duty in Sydney or elsewhere in NSW if they have particular circumstances that mean they are unable to do jury duty. This may be:
- That serving on a jury would cause them or their family undue hardship or serious inconvenience;
- They have a disability that renders them unsuitable for or incapable of serving on a jury;
- They have conflict of interest that could result in a perception that they lacked impartiality if they were to serve on a jury;
- That there is another reason they cannot perform jury duty.
If a person is called up for jury duty and wants to be excused, they must inform the Sheriff before the day they are required to attend court. A person must not supply false or misleading information to the Sheriff in this situation. Doing so is an offence that can result in a fine of $5,500.
Am I exempt from jury duty in Sydney?
Schedule 2 of the Jury Act sets out the categories of person who are exempt from serving on a jury. This includes clergy, medical practitioners, emergency service workers and persons who have previously done lengthy jury service.
Am I excluded from jury duty in Sydney?
Schedule 1 of the Jury Act sets out the categories of person that are excluded from jury duty in Sydney. This includes:
- Persons in particular public service occupations;
- Undischarged bankrupts;
- Person holding particular officers such as judicial officers and members of parliament;
- Persons in custody;
- Person subject to certain orders such as Apprehended Violence Orders.
Persons who have served particular terms of imprisonment are also excluded from jury duty for a designated period after the completion of their sentence. A person who has been found guilty of certain serious criminal offences such as murder and terrorism offences is excluded from serving on a jury for life.
A jury is empanelled in a courtroom. Each person is given a number and numbers are selected at random. Once 12 numbers have been called, both parties have the right to ‘challenge’ up to three potential jurors. In NSW, no information about potential jurors is given to the parties. This means that challenges much occur without knowing any information about the person such as their age or occupation.
A jury is a trier of fact. Jurors are not required to consider issues of law or to determine the appropriate sentence. In most cases, a jury must reach a unanimous verdict; however, in some cases, a majority verdict will be allowed.
A jury must reach its decision in private. Jurors are not permitted to reveal information to other people about how the jury reached its decision or about any matters that were discussed in the course of the jury’s deliberations. The identities of members of a jury are never made public.
Payment for jury duty
A person who serves on a jury in NSW will be paid per day for the time they have spent on jury service. They will also be paid per kilometre they had to travel to get to court. If a trial lasts for longer than ten days, the jurors will be paid for their service at a higher daily rate.
Offences relating to jury duty
The Jury Act contains a number of offences relating to jurors. These include failing to attend for jury duty, harassing jurors or former jurors, jurors disclosing information about the deliberations of a jury and impersonating a juror. These offences can attract fines and terms of imprisonment.
If you require legal advice or representation in relation to jury duty in Sydney or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.