Why Do We Have Jury Service?
The Jury Duty Act of Australia defines jurors as an essential part of the justice system in the country, a way to reach impartial and fair decisions of a legal case or proceeding. Jurors are there to provide some unbiased opinion on the case, as they make their final decisions based on the facts presented.
How Does The Selection Process For Jury Duty Work?
If you’re able to vote, you’re a candidate for jury duty. Receiving a summons for jury duty doesn’t always mean you’ll automatically sit on the bench: there’s an entire process you need to go through, or they can withdraw the summons. Only 12 people are selected each time from a pool of prospective jurors.
Once you get the summons, you’ll go to the courthouse where you and a pool of other potential jurors will be evaluated by the prosecution and defence. Both sides will look at your history and credentials and decide whether you have a bias for voting for or against one side. If you clear this process, then you’ll become a juror for that trial.
At the trial, they expect you and the other jurors to look through the information presented by each case and reach a verdict after they present all the evidence. Depending on the profile of the case, you may or may not be subject to additional rules and regulations.
What Are The Exemptions To Jury Eligibility?
Even if you can vote, there are still some cases where you can be automatically disqualified for jury duty. These include but are not limited to:
- Being unable to speak English
- Working in a legal practice or law enforcement
- Knowing anyone involved in the case
- Being over the age of 75
- Working overseas
You can find here the complete list of exemptions here. Alternatively, deferral of jury duty is possible if you have work or other emergencies that you can’t postpone. In that case, you need to notify the office that issued the summons as soon as possible, and you need to give to give a date within the next six months when you can attend the proceedings.
What Should I Know As A Juror?
If you DO get selected as a juror, don’t panic! The committee will guide you through everything you need from instructions to videos. You can also consult resources like a Juror’s Handbook, as each state has its own. Aside from that, just follow the formal dress code established by the court, pay attention to the hearing, and deliberate as impartially as you can.
Is There A Fine For Not Attending?
Absolutely. Not attending jury duty violates your agreement with the local government, and can merit you a heavy fine or other court proceedings depending on the context of your absence.
Does Jury Duty Pay?
It does. When you appear as a juror, you’ll be compensated for your time and effort in taking part with the legal proceedings. While the exact amount will depend on the state (for example, the rates in Victoria will differ from those in NSW,) you can expect to receive:
- Attendance fees
- Transportation fees
- Jury allowance
- Make up pay for your time off work (if applicable)
Stand And Deliver
It might be possible you’ll never get summoned for jury duty at all, but it’s still important to keep the possibility in mind. So if you ever get the summons, just refer back to this article and you should be ready to do your part!