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Posts Tagged ‘juries’

A Bill has been introduced into NSW Parliament which will alter the categories of people who are ineligible for jury duty. Relevant links are below.

In summary (ie why I am writing about this), having a disability will no longer be a blanket reason for ineligibility.

To explain the current position (from the government’s Agreement in Principle speech):

Under the existing legislation, three schedules to the Act provide bases for not serving on a jury: some people are disqualified, some ineligible, and some have a right to claim exemption. Disqualification essentially arises from past criminal conduct. Those who are ineligible cannot serve if they are summoned. This group includes the Governor, the Ombudsman, judicial officers and police officers, and those who cannot read or write English sufficiently, or are too sick, infirm or disabled, to discharge the duties of a juror.

And the new position (from the same source):

Two groups currently listed as ineligible will now have to show cause to be excused. They are a person who is unable to read or understand English, and a person who is unable, because of sickness, infirmity or disability, to discharge the duties of a juror. The Disability Council supported removing the ineligibility of those who are disabled, for example, on the basis that it remedies “an unjustified, outdated belief that people with a disability are unable to fulfil juror duties”. Clearly, a number of people who were excused from service under the current rule will still be excused for good cause, but the change reflects a principled move away from statutory excusal to showing good cause in each case.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a practical problem the current position causes. But, people being people, I suspect that if you show up to jury duty with a visible/evident/obvious disability,* someone would question you about that and maybe tell you that you are ineligible, or suggest that you could be ineligible if you got a note from your doctor. That suggestion would be based on the suggester’s assumptions about you rather than any actual evidence as to whether you are, in fact, unable to discharge a juror’s duties.

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