Published on March 4, 2014
ROLE OF THE JURY
Role of the Jury http://www.c ourts.lawlink. nsw.gov.au/c ats/jury_serv ice/role_of_j ury.html Juries are used in the NSW District and Supreme Courts to: hear and determine more serious criminal matters hear and determine civil matters involving large monetary claims Juries are also used in coronial inquests in the NSW Coroner‟s Court.
Criminal trials In criminal trials, a jury hears evidence, applies the law as directed by the judge, and decides if a person is guilty or not guilty of a crime, based on the facts. A jury does not participate in the sentencing process. In most criminal trials, 12 people are selected to be on the jury. Up to 15 jurors can be empanelled if a trial is expected to last longer than three months. To be empanelled means to be chosen for a specific trial.
Civil trials Civil trials which require juries are usually defamation proceedings. The trial judge will outline the issues the jury needs to consider to decide who is at fault. Four people are selected to sit on a civil trial jury.
Who cannot serve on a Jury Excluded People may be excluded from the jury roll because they: hold particular high public office, such as GovernorGeneral or Members of the Executive Committee; or are employed in certain public sector roles. have a criminal conviction; are serving a term of imprisonment or detention; have lost a driver's licence or are undischarged bankrupts. Depending on the offence they may be excluded for life or a set period of time. Exempt People may be exempt or have a right to claim exemption from jury service because of their employment. Those who can apply for exemption include doctors, dentists, clergy and emergency workers.
Responsibilities of jurors An accused person has the right to a fair trial, so jurors should pay full attention to the trial proceedings. This means you should not take unrelated material, such as books, magazines or iPads into the courtroom. Jurors should at all times be open-minded, fair and impartial. If you realise in court that you know a witness, you must immediately inform the judge in a note sent via the court officer. The names of witnesses will have been read out at the start of the case, so whenever possible this should have been raised before the jury was empanelled.
All jury discussions must occur in the jury room and only when all jurors are present. Do not discuss the case with any other people. You should not speak to other people in the precincts of the court. If you attend work on a day when court is not sitting, be careful not to discuss any details of the trial with your colleagues or work mates. You will be provided with a notebook to take notes as needed. You will have to hand this in each day, and at the end of the trial. Once the matter has been finalised, all the notebooks are destroyed.
You may be required to go on a 'jury view', where you are taken to the scene of the alleged crime, with the judge and legal representatives. These visits are pre-arranged and treated like a normal trial day. You are not permitted to visit the alleged crime scene without the judge and legal representatives. During the trial, you must not use any material or research tool, including the internet, to find out further information which relates to any matter arising in the trial.
K Brothers The Ashfield gang rapes were a series of attacks involving indecent assault and rape of possibly as many as eighteen teenaged women of varying ethnic backgrounds which were carried out in Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia in late 2001 and over a six-month period in 2002. At the time of the trial, three of the K brothers were already serving a prison sentence for a previous rape. Defendant „MSK‟ divulged this information, which had been kept from the jury to prevent them from being biased against the defendants, in open court in a supposed attempt to have the trial aborted.
Skaf case A gang rape victim will have to relive her ordeal during a retrial because two jurors disobeyed a court's instructions. Alleged gang rape ringleader Bilal Skaf and his brother Mohammed have had their convictions for the gang rape of the then 16-year-old girl overturned after two jurors conducted their own crime-scene experiments in breach of court rules. The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday "regrettably" ordered retrials for both men, at which the alleged victim will have to give her evidence again. Keith Mason and Justices Brian Sully and James Wood upheld the brothers' appeals on the grounds that two jurors miscarried the trial by conducting their own experiments. The three court of appeal judges found the two men disobeyed the instructions of the trial judge, Michael Finnane, who told the jury not to "go and do your own research". Despite the warning, the jury foreman, 64, rang another juror the night before the verdict was delivered and they went to the Greenacre park where the alleged rape occurred. The two jurors went to a Sydney park for about 20 minutes to check the lighting conditions, the judges said. "The foreman said he only went to the park to 'clarify something for my own mind'". However, as identity was an issue in the trial, the judges found the experiment was a miscarriage of justice. "In our view there must, regrettably, be a new trial because of this ground," they said. To ensure other trials were not miscarried because of juror misconduct the judges also ordered that juries be given more specific directions. These include not making private visits to the crime scene, not asking other jurors to conduct experiments and informing the trial judge if they discover fellow jurors making independent inquiries into the case.
Jurors playing Sudoku abort trial AFTER 105 witnesses and three months of evidence, a drug trial costing $1 million was aborted yesterday when it emerged that jurors had been playing Sudoku since the trial's second week. In the District Court in Sydney, Judge Peter Zahra discharged the jury after hearing evidence from two accused men, one of their solicitors and the jury forewoman, who admitted that she and four other jurors had been diverting themselves in the jury box by playing the popular numbers game. More than 20 police gave evidence in the case, in which the two accused faced a common charge of conspiracy to manufacture a commercial quantity of amphetamines. One faced further firearms and drug possession indictments. The prosecution and defence were due to deliver final addresses to the jury this week. But last week, as one of the accused was giving evidence, he saw the jury forewoman playing what he thought was Sudoku. His co-accused saw it too, and the defence counsel made a joint application for a discharge. Yesterday Judge Zahra took unsworn evidence from the forewoman in which she confirmed the accused men's suspicions. She said four or five jurors had brought in the Sudoku sheets and photocopied them to play during the trial and then compare their results during meal breaks. She admitted to having spent more than half of her time in court playing the game.
“Jurors need more direction” It is a pinnacle of the adversarial system of justice that governs criminal trials in this country, but most jurors asked to determine a person's fate struggle to understand what ''beyond reasonable doubt'' means. A NSW Law Reform Commission review of the directions judges give to juries finds they are not working, are outdated, overly complex and need to be clearer. Read the full article: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/jurorsneed-more-direction--report-201303252gq7q.html#ixzz2uxJlZwbE Access the NSW LRC‟s report and make summary notes.
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