Guide to Jury Duty in New South Wales

What is a Jury in New South Wales?

In New South Wales, a jury is a group of people selected to hear evidence in a legal case and make a decision based on that evidence. The jury’s job is to determine the facts of the case and apply the law to those facts. Jurors are responsible for ensuring that a fair outcome takes place for the litigants by delivering an unprejudiced decision. 

jury duty selection

How does Jury Selection occur in New South Wales?

  1. Jury Summons: This is a legal document that is sent to eligible citizens that includes information about the trial, including the date and time, location, and duration.  Individuals who receive a Jury Summons have to attend the trial.
  2. Jury Selection: This process involves questioning potential jurors to determine whether they are qualified and impartial. During the selection process, both the prosecution and defence have the opportunity to make challenges to jurors before they are sworn in.
  3. Swearing in a jury: Once the challenges have been exhausted and there is a full panel of jurors, each person on the jury has to take an oath or an affirmation to carry out his or her or their task faithfully and impartially.

In NSW, the most common civil cases that get juries will be some defamation actions. Most juries will be for criminal cases. Juries are also used in coronial inquests in the NSW Coroners Court.

Can I Get Out of Jury Duty in New South Wales?

While serving on a jury is a civic duty, there are some circumstances where individuals in New South Wales may be exempt. Some of the most common reasons for being excused from jury duty are under the Jury Amendment Act 2010: 

For example, the reasons include: 

  • Health issues that make it impossible to serve
  • A serious family emergency
  • Being the primary caregiver for a dependent
  • Being a full-time student or have exams on the day of the trial
  • Having a pre-booked holiday
  • Having a disability that would make it difficult to serve on a jury
  • a conflict of interest or some other knowledge, acquaintance or friendship exists that may result in the perception of a lack of impartiality in the juror

How to get excused from jury duty

If you’ve received a summons to attend court for jury service and you’d like to be excused, you can do this online, or by email or post. You can contact the Jury Services Branch and request to be excused.

However, it is an offence punishable if you provide false or misleading information to the sheriff when claiming an exemption, requesting deferral of service. The penalty for doing so is a fine of up to $5,500, or 50 penalty units.

Notably, a potential juror is also able to advise the Judge in private on any reason they foresee there may be a difficulty with them becoming a juror in the trial. The judge will then consider this application and decide whether to excuse the juror from the trial. 

More info can be found here

What Happens if I Don’t Show Up to Jury Duty in New South Wales?

Failing to appear for jury duty can result in fines of up to $2,200. 

Serving on a jury is an important civic duty that plays a crucial role in the justice system. By being prepared, informed, and respectful throughout the process, you can make a valuable contribution to the legal process. By doing so, you make a positive impact on your community.

However, keep in mind that there is a modest payment for jury duty.

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O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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