Trial by jury is when Twelve ordinary members of the community selected by a ballot conducted in open court sit in judgement of the evidence presented in a trial. In South Australia, jurors officiate in criminal trials only, and only in the jurisdictions of the Supreme and District Criminal Courts.
The system of trial by jury depends on the attendance of the broadest possible cross section of the community bringing their life’s experiences to bear on the law. The task of the jury in a trial is to judge the facts presented in evidence. The judicial officer presiding over the trial will direct this jury as to the law and will impose any penalty upon persons convicted.
Generally a jury panel will be on call for the period of four to five weeks. You will not be required to attend every day during that period of time unless you are selected on a trial for that total period.
Your attendance on the first day will include an administrative address from the Sheriff and an informative address from a judicial officer. If not selected on a trial on the first day, further attendances will be governed by the sittings of the courts. You will be advised around 4:00 pm each day if you are required for the next day. If you are selected on a trial which sits past the end of the jury period you will be required to attend until the completion of the trial.
The courts will normally sit from 10.00am to 4.30pm with a lunch adjournment from approximately 1.00pm to 2.15pm. The trial judge will normally order a short break during the morning and afternoon sessions.
Late sittings of the courts are avoided where possible but can happen unexpectedly.
Jurors are free to return home at night unless the judge directs that the jury be kept together. This very rarely happens.
For information regarding remuneration for jury service, please visit the payments section.
As you are obliged to attend, you employer is obliged to release you to attend. It may be that you are summonsed for a most inconvenient time for you or your employer. You may apply to defer your attendance to a more convenient time.
It is suggested that you notify your employer upon receipt of your jury summons and if you do require a deferment, that you make your application as soon as you can.
Meals are not normally supplied except when a jury is considering its verdict. Tea and coffee making facilities and supplies are stocked in all jury retiring rooms and biscuits are supplied.
The annual jury list is a random computer selection from the electoral rolls so your name may be selected on more that one occasion. If you have served as a juror during the past three years, you are entitled to make an application to be excused. You can serve as often as you are called.