25 September, 2012
New law protects people on jury service
A bill that protects the safety and privacy of jurors and streamlines the jury system has passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.
Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Juries (Jury Service and Protection of Particulars of Jury List Information) Amendment Act better protects jurors by restricting access to jurors’ addresses on panel records.
The Government moved to tighten access to jurors’ information after convicted murderer George Baker wrote to a juror whose name he saw on a list while representing himself in a trial.
“Jury service is an important civic duty and those who are summoned deserve to feel safe. The new Act puts jurors’ safety and privacy first and introduces provisions to make the process more flexible,” Ms Collins says.
Instead of requesting to be excused from jury duty each time they are summoned, people may now apply to be permanently excused from service due to disability or for health reasons. Court registrars also must permanently excuse people aged over 65 who request a permanent excusal.
“These changes will allow for a more efficient, less troublesome process both for people seeking to be excused and for court staff,” Ms Collins says.
The Act also ensures people who have been sentenced to home detention for three months or more during the last five years cannot serve on a jury.
Those serving less than three months’ home detention will be deferred or excused from service if they are summoned while serving their sentence.