Jury empanelment: Attorney-General Robert Clark announced today that he has given a new reference to the Victorian Law Reform Commission to examine the jury empanelment process.
Jury empanelment is the process of selecting the members of a jury that will hear a particular case from amongst the pool of persons who have been summoned for jury duty.
“Juries are a fundamental part of Victoria’s justice system, and members of the community make an enormous contribution to the rule of law when they sit on a jury,” Mr Clark said.
“It is important to ensure that jury empanelment functions justly, effectively and efficiently.”
The review will consider a number of issues regarding the empanelment of jurors in civil and criminal trials and consider whether procedural, administrative and legislative changes should be made to improve the system. In particular, the Commission has been asked to examine:
· peremptory challenges in criminal and civil trials and the Crown’s right to stand aside jurors in criminal trials;
· whether calling prospective jurors by number in all or most instances in the empanelment process would improve procedural fairness and
protection of jurors; and
· the use of additional jurors in jury deliberations.
“This reference will help ensure that Victoria’s justice system makes the best possible use of the time citizens give to attending jury duty, that their commitment is given due respect, and that the empanelment of jurors takes place in a way that best promotes the interests of justice,” Mr Clark said.
The Commission is required to report by May 2014.