In February 2013, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to review and report on aspects of jury empanelment in Victoria under the following terms of reference:
Jury empanelment: The Victorian Law Reform Commission is asked to review and report on whether changes are needed to ensure that the jury empanelment process operates justly, effectively and efficiently.
Peremptory challenges and the Crown right to stand aside jurors
The review should consider peremptory challenges in criminal and civil trials and the Crown right to stand aside jurors in criminal trials with regard to:
- resourcing implications
- the representativeness of the jury
- the impartiality of the jury
- procedural fairness
- the effects on jurors.
The review should have regard to reviews of peremptory challenges and the crown right to stand aside jurors in other jurisdictions, both within Australia and internationally. The review should also consider existing alternative mechanisms and recommend new procedural, administrative and legislative changes if appropriate to do so.
Calling of panel
The review should consider the calling of the panel outlined in s.31 of the Juries Act. In Victoria, name or number and occupation identify prospective and empanelled jurors. The review should consider the introduction of the practice of empanelling juries by number in every (or most) instance in the context of procedural fairness and the effects on and protection of jurors.
The review should consider s.48 of the Juries Act 2000, which applies when there are additional jurors on the jury. The review should consider whether it is necessary or desirable for the jury to be reduced to 12 (or 6 as the case requires) before the jury retires to consider its verdict. In reviewing this section, the Commission is to have particular regard to the effects on jurors.
The Commission is to report by 31 May 2014.