The law regulating juries is contained in the Jury Act 1977 (NSW).
I have been called for jury duty, do I have to go?
Yes. If you have not been excused and do not attend, you will be sent a letter asking you to explain why you were absent. If your explanation is not accepted, a fine of up to $2,200 can apply.
Why have I been chosen?
Jurors are randomly selected from the jury roll in the particular area. The jury roll is compiled based on information supplied by the Australian Electoral Commission. Generally, if you are qualified to vote, you can serve as a juror.
Certain people are excluded from serving on a jury. You may be excluded if you:
- have been convicted of certain serious offences
- have served a term of imprisonment within the last seven to ten years
- have been found guilty of an offence and detained in a detention centre or juvenile facility in the past three years
- are currently bound by a court order relating to a charge or conviction (such as parole, community service order, AVO, good behaviour bond, bail or remand, or an order disqualifying the person from driving)
- are employed in public service, law enforcement, criminal investigation, the provision of legal services, or the administration of justice
- are an undischarged bankrupt.
You can claim an exemption from jury duty if you:
- are a practicing dentist, pharmacist, or medical practitioner,
- are part of clergy,
- are employed or engaged in emergency services provision
- care for children or others who are ill or disabled,
- served as a juror in the past three years, or attended court when required for jury duty (but did not serve) in the last 12 months.
There are a number of other people who are excluded or may be excused. Importantly, you must apply to be excused. Generally, each case is decided on its merits.
Your employer must release you for jury service, and employers are liable to severe penalties if they fire, or otherwise disadvantage you because of your absence for jury duty. Further, your employer cannot force you to take accrued holidays or sick leave to serve on a jury.
Will I be part of the jury?
Not necessarily. Some people may be excused from duty. If you recognise any of the names of, or know the accused, witnesses or police officers involved in the case you may be excused. Following this process, jurors are selected from a random ballot.
Even after this process, both the prosecution and defence have the opportunity to object to potential jurors. Both parties may make three objections. If the prosecution or defence object to a juror, that juror is excused.