Jury Service in Perth
Jury service gives citizens the opportunity to learn about the judicial system and get involved in the administration of justice. Anyone who is enrolled to vote in WA is liable to do jury service in Perth or elsewhere in the state. However some people can be excused from jury service or are ineligible. Jury service in WA is governed by the Juries Act 1957.
What is jury service in Perth?
If you are selected for jury service in Perth or the rest of WA, you are being asked to give your time and effort for the period for which you have been summonsed. If you are employed, your employer will be required to co-operate by excusing you from your duties for the period you are doing your jury service. A person who served on a jury will be remunerated for their service and if there is a gap between the pay they receive and what they would normally have earned during the same period, their employer will be required to pay them the difference so that they are not disadvantaged by their jury service.
Serving on a jury
If you are called up for jury service in Perth or elsewhere in WA you will receive a summons several weeks before the date on which the trial is listed. You will have to attend court for jurors to be selected. If you are selected you will hear evidence and legal submission in either a civil or a criminal trial. The majority of trials are completed in less than five days. However some trials run for longer than a week. Court usually sits between 10am and 4.30pm with lunch and breaks determined by the judge. If you are selected for jury service in Perth, you need to be prepared for the possibility you will be involved in a long trial. If this is going to cause problems for you because of work or other commitments, you may need to defer your jury service and serving it at a time when you are less committed. This should be done prior to the date you have been summonsed to court
Can I get out of jury service in Perth?
A person who needs to defer their jury service to a more convenient time, can do so for up to six months. A deferral may be granted based on pressing commitments, health issues, business needs or because hardship would be caused to the person’s family or the community if they did jury service. A deferral can be sought by filling in the statutory declaration on the back of the summons.
Section 5 of the Juries Act contains the circumstances under which a person is ineligible to serve on a jury. These include where a person is 75 or older and where a person has been sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years. Some professions, like judges, lawyers, police and some other public officials are also ineligible for jury service.
Under section 34G, a person may apply to be excused from jury service on a number of grounds. These include where the person does not live in the relevant district, does not understand English or cannot serve because of a disability. A person can be excused from jury duty for a specified period or permanently. A judge can also excuse a person at their own initiative.
A person who has done jury duty in the last five years is also excused.
Offences and penalties
Under section 55 of the Juries Act, there are a number of criminal offences relating to jury service. These include failing to obey a summons, impersonating a juror and failing to obey a direction. All these are punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000.
Section 56 creates a number of offences relating to conduct by the employer of a juror, punishable by a maximum fines of $10,000 (or $50,000 for a body corporate). If an employer treats an employee who is doinging jury service disfavourably, for example, by terminating their employment or reducing their salary, the employer is committing an offence.
Jurors must not disclose statements that were made, opinions that were expressed, arguments that were advanced or votes that were cast in the course of the jury’s deliberation to any other person. It is also an offence for a person to solicit or obtain information about a jury’s deliberations or to publish such information. Doing these things can attract a maximum fine of 5,000.
It is contempt of court to take or publish pictures of a person who is attending court to engage in jury service. If you require legal advice in relation to jury service in Perth or in any other legal matter please contact Go To Court Lawyers.