Juries have an important role in the administration of justice within Australia. Juries are often used in NSW to determine more serious criminal matters. It is important to follow the rules when summoned for jury duty as there can be serious consequences if you do not.
Here are some key points that will help you if you have received a summons for jury duty in NSW:
- You must comply with the summons to attend court for jury service:
If you receive a summons, it is important that you read it summons carefully. You must turn up to court on the day and time set out in the notice. If you do not attend and your reasons are not accepted, you may face a fine of up to $2,200.
- You may be able to claim an exemption from jury service:
Some occupations will give you an option to claim an exemption. This includes clergy, doctors, emergency workers, full-time carers of someone who is sick, infirm or disabled and people who have served on a jury in the past 3 years. People who hold senior positions in public office may also be excluded.
- You may be able to be excused if you have a ‘good cause’:
The Jury Amendment Act 2010 lists the reasons that constitute ‘good cause’ and include:
- That jury service would cause serious hardship or inconvenience to you, your family or the public.
- That you have a permanent mental or physical impairment or a disability that cannot be reasonably accommodated or may impact your effectiveness as a juror.
- There is a conflict of interest that means you could not be impartial.
You may apply to be excused before your summons date, or may apply on the day you attend court.
- You are paid an allowance for your service:
If you are employed, jurors are normally paid $106.30 each day for the first 10 days they are required and then $242.30 each additional day. Under s 111 of the Fair Work Act 2009, an employer is required to pay the employee the difference between the jury duty allowance and the employee’s normal wage for the first 10 days. If you are unemployed, jurors are normally paid $106.30 for each day they are required. There is also a travel allowance that jurors may be entitled to receive.
- You may ask to be assigned a shorter trial:
Trials can last several days, weeks or even months. At the beginning of the jury empanelling process an estimation is given of how long the trial is expected to last. Jurors may raise any issues they have with the trial length and may ask to be assigned a shorter trial.
- Your privacy is protected:
You are not required to disclose your personal information to anyone other than a sheriff’s officer in order to protect your privacy during your time as a juror.
- Jurors must endeavour to remain open-minded and impartial:
As the decision of the jury will have a significant impact on the lives of other people it is important that during the process of the trial, the jury remains impartial. A juror must inform the judge immediately if they know a witness. A juror also must not conduct any research into any matter that arises in the trial, including on the internet.
- You must keep details of the case confidential:
All jury discussions must take place in the jury room and details of the trial must not be discussed with anyone, including people in the court precinct, family members or work colleagues. This includes posting any details or material on social media.
- There is counselling available after the trial
Due to the nature of some trials, jurors may feel confused or distressed after the trial has ceased. The Juror Support Program is in place to provide assistance for juror’s who may be experiencing difficulties after the trial.