A jury is a group of people who listen to the facts and evidence of a case and apply the law (as directed by a Judge) to reach a verdict. Most commonly, juries are used in criminal trials but occasionally they will be used in civil matters, such as defamation cases.
Jurors are randomly selected from within the community to ensure that legal verdicts are impartial. Anyone who is over the age of 18 years and enrolled to vote may be called upon for jury duty.
Jury selection process
- You receive a Notice of Inclusion in the post – This means you may be required to attend court for jury duty within the next 12 months
- You receive a jury summons which requires you to attend court
- You attend court and will either be chosen or excluded, exempt or excused from being a juror in that trial
Serving as a juror offers insights into the court processes and allows members of the community to play an active role in the administration of justice. It can be interesting and rewarding. However, you may be excluded, exempt or excused from jury duty for a number of reasons.
Reasons you may be excluded or exempt under the law
- If you know any of the people involved in the trial (accused, victim, legal representatives, police or judge)
- If you are “challenged” by either side – each side is allowed to “challenge” or reject up to three jurors without reason
- If you have a job which is related to the courts or justice systems
- If you hold a job which gives you direct access to inmates or information about inmates
- If you have been convicted of an offence – depending on the offence you may be exempt for life or just for a period of time
- If you have served as juror within 3 years, been summoned but not selected in the last 12 months or have previously served a lengthy jury service
- Certain occupations may be exempt including medical practitioners, rescue and emergency workers, clergy and full-time carers
The sheriff or judge can also consider excusing you from jury duty:
- If it would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you, your family or the public
- If you have a disability, permanent mental or physical impairment
- If there is a conflict of interest that may prevent or be perceived to prevent impartiality
- If you are a sole trader or contractor
- If you have care of school aged children and cannot make alternate care arrangements
- If you are heavily pregnant or pregnant with medical difficulties
- If you have a medical condition that would make serving as a juror difficult
- If you are an emergency service worker
- If you are a student
- If you are absent from NSW
- If you have transport difficulties
- If you are unable to read and understand English
Applying to be excused
You can submit an application to be excused online with supporting evidence, such as a medical certificate, carer’s card or confirmation of overseas flights. This should be done at least one week prior to the summons date. Alternatively, you can ask the sheriff or judge at court.
It is important not to ignore a Jury summons as there are substantial penalties for failing to comply with a Summons.
For more information or assistance call WMD Law on (02) 9525 8688