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Selection of the jury

Who can be on a jury?

Each person residing in South Australia who is enrolled to vote at the election of members of the House of Assembly can be summoned for jury service [s 11 Juries Act 1927 (SA)]. The Juries Act has some exceptions to this (see below) and a person who is 70 years old or over can apply to be excused from attendance [see s17(1)-(2)].

For further information on jury service, see also the Courts website.

A person is ineligible for jury service if he or she is:

  • mentally or physically unfit to carry out the duties of a juror; or
  • has insufficient command of the English language to enable him or her properly to carry out the duties of a juror; or
  • is declared by Schedule 3 of the Juries Act 1927 (SA) to be ineligible for jury service. Declared persons are:

    - the Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor and their spouses or domestic partners

    - Members of Parliament

    - members of the judiciary and their spouses or domestic partners

    - Justices of the Peace who perform court duties and their spouses or domestic partners

    - legal practitioners actually practising as such

    - members of the Police Force and their spouses or domestic partners

    - persons employed in a department of the Government whose duties of office are connected with the investigation of offences, the administration of justice or the punishment of offenders

    - persons employed in the administration of courts or in the recording or transcription of evidence taken before the courts.

A person is disqualified from jury service if he or she:

  • has been convicted of an offence for which death or life imprisonment is the mandatory or maximum penalty; or
  • has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term exceeding 2 years; or
  • within the last 10 years, has served any part of a term of imprisonment or a term of detention as a youth, or has been on probation or parole; or
  • within the last 5 years has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment, or has been disqualified by order of a court from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for a period exceeding 6 months; or
  • is subject to a bond to be of good behaviour; or
  • has been charged with an offence punishable by imprisonment and the charge has not yet been determined.

Annual Jury List

Each year, a list of potential jurors is prepared for each of the three jury districts in the State - Adelaide, Northern (Pt Augusta), and South-Eastern (Mt Gambier). The State Electoral Roll subdivisions are divided up between the jury districts and jurors can generally only be selected for the jury district that covers their electoral subdivision.

At least 3000 names must be chosen annually for the Adelaide jury district, and 500 each for the Northern and South-Eastern districts. Names are obtained by random selection from the state electoral roll. The number of names chosen from each electoral subdivision must be proportionate to the number of names on the roll for each subdivision.

Once names are selected, the list is checked to determine whether any selected people live more than 150 km from the court where the trials will be. If so, they are sent a notice asking if they want to serve; their names are not included in the jury list unless they wish to serve.

Monthly jury pool

Each month, a number of potential jurors sufficient to cover all the trials for that month is randomly selected from the annual jury list.

Those on the monthly list are sent a summons to attend court for a general orientation session. They are then on call for the month and must telephone each day to see if they must attend for a particular trial.

How often can someone be required to serve on a jury?

Each year, every person on the State Electoral Roll aged 18-70 can be selected to be on the annual jury list, regardless of whether they have served before. If a person has served as a juror within the previous three years, they can apply to be excused from jury service if they receive a summons.

Once a person has been selected in a monthly jury pool, they can only be selected again in the same year after all other names have been selected, and 6 months after they have previously served.

Application to be excused from jury service can be made by a person summonsed to jury service, but not already serving on a jury, for the following reasons:

  • the person has served as a juror within the previous three years
  • the person is one of two or more partners from the same partnership, or of two or more persons employed in the same establishment, who have been summoned to attend as jurors on the same days
  • ill-health
  • conscientious objection
  • a matter of special urgency or importance
  • for any reasonable cause
  • the person lives 150km or more from the courthouse.

Selecting a jury for a trial

When the trial is called on, the accused is placed in the dock, the charge is read aloud and the defendant is again asked to plead guilty or not guilty. The women and men from whom the jury will be selected are already seated in court and their names are in a ballot box in the court. If a plea of not guilty is entered, twelve names are selected at random from the ballot box [s 46 Juries Act 1927 (SA)].

The prosecution and the defence may challenge (refuse) up to three jurors each without giving a reason (peremptory challenge). Where two or more persons are jointly charged, each is entitled to challenge 3 jurors peremptorily.

The prosecution and the defence may also challenge the right of a juror to sit on the jury on the basis that he or she is ineligible to act, or disqualified from acting, as a juror.

If a prospective juror is refused, further names are called until twelve jurors are accepted.

Being excused from the jury once a trial has begun

If a juror becomes ill during a trial or a matter of special urgency or importance arises for them, the Judge may order that the juror be excused from further attendance during that trial and for such further period (if any) as the Judge determines.

The minimum number of jurors for a trial is 10. If any of the twelve jurors is excused, does not turn up, or dies, then the trial can continue with 11 or 10 jurors.

Payment while on a jury

Employers must permit their employees to take leave for jury service. Employers are not required to provide paid leave. However, it is possible to apply to be excused from jury service or to defer jury service for work related reasons.

If an employer provides paid leave to a juror, the employer is entitled to be reimbursed the actual amount paid up to a maximum of $132 per day (indexed - amount as at January 2016).

Unless a juror is paid by an employer for the period during which they attend court, jurors are paid $20 for each day they attend, regardless of how long they are present.

Actual monetary loss or expenditure incurred as a direct result of jury service may be claimed (up to a maximum of $132 per day (indexed- amount as at January 2016)) in addition to the $20 payment for each day's attendance. For example, lost wages, the cost of extra child care or the cost of employing someone to cover absence at work if self-employed can be claimed.

A travelling allowance of 73 cents per kilometre (at Jan 2016) is paid to all jurors based on the distance from the juror's residence to the court and back for each day's attendance.

Claims for these amounts have to be substantiated and made on the forms available on the Courts website.

Selection of the jury  :  Last Revised: Tue Jun 28th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.