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 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 Judge presiding over the trial will direct any jury as to the law and will impose any penalty upon persons convicted after a verdict has been given.

Jury service requires you to be on call for a period of approximately four weeks. You will not be required to attend every day during that period, but you will need to attend every day that a trial sits if selected on a Jury during a ballot. The average length of a trial is 4-5 days.

Your attendance on the first day will include an administrative address from the Jury Manager and an informative address from a judicial officer. 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 a jury is currently in deliberating on their verdict and the judge directs that the jury be kept together. In this case, a hotel will be booked and essential belongings collected for you from your home.  However, this occurrence very rarely happens, and in almost all cases jurors will be free to return home at the end of the day.

Jurors are paid a base fee, a travelling allowance and can claim a capped amount of lost wages for days they attend as a juror. For information regarding remuneration for jury service, please visit the payments section.

Your employer is obliged to release you to attend if summonsed for Jury service. 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.  A booklet with helpful information for employers in included in with your summons.

Meals are not normally supplied except when a jury is considering its verdict and are not permitted to leave the jury room during meal breaks.  In these instances, lunch and dinner will be organised and provided by the court. Biscuits, tea and coffee making facilities are stocked in all jury retiring rooms for juror convenience while on a trial.  Each jury room also has a fridge and microwave for jurors to bring their lunch in with them if they wish.

The annual jury list is a random computer selection from the electoral roll so your name may be selected on more than one occasion. If you have served as a juror during the past three years, you are entitled to make an application to be excused if you would prefer not to serve again so soon after your previous service, otherwise you can serve as often as you are called.