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Juries

Doing jury service

Do I have to serve on the jury if I’m called up?

Juries Act 1981, ss 15, 32

If you are selected for jury service, you have to serve unless:

  • you belong to a category of people who are disqualified from jury service, or
  • the court excuses you from jury service or allows you to put it off until a later date.

If you have not been deferred or excused from jury service, you can be fined up to $1,000 for not attending.

Who is disqualified from jury service?

Juries Act 1981, ss 7, 8

Some people who have been convicted and sentenced in criminal cases can’t serve on a jury, namely:

  • people who have ever been sentenced to a jail term of three years or more, or to preventive detention
  • people who, in the last five years, have been sentenced to a jail term of three months or more or to corrective training.

The following kinds of people are also disqualified from jury service:

  • members of Parliament
  • people involved with the justice system, such as judges and Justices of the Peace, practising lawyers, police officers, prison officers, probation officers and people employed in the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections or other prison management groups
  • people with an intellectual disability

When can I be excused from jury service?

Juries Act 1981, ss 14B, 14C, 15, 16, 16AA

You can apply in writing to the court registrar to allow you to put off (“defer”) your jury service for up to one year, if serving now would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you or to some other person, or to the general public, because of:

  • your work commitments
  • your health or a physical disability
  • your language difficulty
  • your childcare or family responsibilities, or
  • other personal circumstances.

If the registrar refuses to put off your jury service, you can appeal to the judge hearing the case.

You can also ask the registrar to excuse you from jury service (so you don’t have to do it), as opposed to simply putting it off. The registrar can excuse you if all of the following three conditions are met:

  • it would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you or some other person, or to the general public, because of:
    • your work commitments
    • your health or a physical disability
    • your childcare or family responsibilities, or
    • other personal circumstances.
  • it isn’t practical to put off jury service until some later time within the next 12 months
  • you would not be able to perform the functions of a juror satisfactorily if you were required to serve.

If the registrar refuses to excuse you, you can appeal to the judge hearing the case.

You are entitled to be excused by the registrar if:

  • you are aged 65 or over and you do not want to serve
  • serving on a jury is against your religious beliefs or your conscience
  • you have served on a jury within the last two years, or
  • you are closely connected with someone involved in the trial.
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