What is a jury? A jury is used during criminal trials and are made up of 12 or more jurors, randomly selected Australian citizens, sworn in by oath or affirmation ‘to give a true verdict according to the evidence’. A jury is responsible for judging the facts of the case, evaluating truthfulness and reliability of witnesses, hearing evidence, and applying the law (as directed by the judge) and to ultimately determine if an accused is guilty or not guilty. Jury trials most commonly take anywhere from a day to a matter of months to conclude. If you receive a notice and wish to be excused from jury duty, there are a few different ways you can do that.
The Jury Amendment Act 2010 outlines you require a ‘reasonable excuse’ to be excluded from jury duty. Reasonable excuses can include:
1. Non-English-speaking background: If you come from a non-English speaking background and have a limited understanding of the English language and written word, you can seek to be excluded from jury duty.
2. Family commitments: If you are single parent, unable to find alternative childcare, sole breadwinner, carer of ill or disabled family members, or in advanced stages of pregnancy, you are eligible to apply to be excluded from your jury duty obligations.
3. Medical History. You are eligible to apply for an exemption if you have a mental or physical impairment or disability that may make you incapable or unsuitable in your duties as a juror. These include being heavily pregnant or have pregnancy-related medical issues, sickness, or infirmity. You may be required to provide a medical certificate or letter from a medical practitioner to support your application.
4. Student: If you are currently enrolled in an Australian university or undertaking educational studies (such as TAFE), you are eligible to apply for exclusion from jury duty, particularly if you have examinations and lectures during the trial proceedings.
5. Emergency services personnel: If you work for any of our state’s emergency services, are a medical practitioner, a dentist, or a pharmacist, you are automatically exempt from jury duty.
6. Current court order or previous conviction: You can be exempt from jury duty if you are currently bound by a court order such as a good behaviour bond, apprehended violence order (AVO), on bail or remand, parole, community service order or a driving disqualification order. If you have previously served a term of imprisonment in the last 7 to 10 years or have been detained in a detention centre or juvenile facility in the previous 3 years, you will be exempt from attending jury duty.
7. Location. You are eligible to apply for an exemption if you live further than 65 kilometres away from the courthouse or have limited or no access to public transportation.
8. Overseas holiday: If you have a pre-planned holiday and have received your summons for jury duty you may seek to be excluded from proceedings, and you may be required to provide copies of your hotel bookings, flights, or proof of tour bookings upon your application to be excused.
9. Previous jury duty summons: If you have attended court for jury duty, but did not serve as a juror, in the last 12 months or have served as a juror in the last 3 years, you can be excluded from jury duty.
10. Conflict of interest: If the accused is revealed as a friend, acquaintance or of some other knowledge to you, you can seek an exemption from jury service as a conflict of interest or of possible impartiality towards the accused.
Be aware, should you fail to appear to your jury duty summons without reasonable excuse or exemption, you are liable for up to $2,200 fine and if you provide false information by way of excuse or exemption you can be liable for up to $5,500.
Should you wish to apply for jury duty exemptions, please visit: https://juror.nsw.gov.au/home
***Assisted by Casey Powell***