During trial

If you are selected for a jury, the judge will tell you everything you need to know about the trial and your role as a juror. You are not expected to know this in advance.

What if I am sick or running late?

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You must come in on time every day during the trial.
If you are running late, are sick or cannot attend for any other reason, you must contact the Juries Commissioner's office or your regional court as soon as possible.

What if I cannot continue as a juror?

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If something serious happens and you think you may not be able to continue your jury service, you must let the judge know as soon as possible.

You can do this by writing a note to the judge and giving it to the judge's staff to pass on.

The judge will decide what needs to be done.

How can I be contacted in an emergency while I'm on a jury?

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In a genuine emergency, your family or friends can leave a message with the Juries Commissioner's office or your regional court. The message will be passed on to you as soon as possible.

Who's who in the courtroom?

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The main people involved in administering a trial are:

  • The judge, who presides over the court and deals with any legal issues that arise during the trial;
  • The judge's associate, who draws out names during jury selection, swears in the jury and assists the judge throughout the trial;
  • The judge's tipstaff, who is responsible for swearing in witnesses and looking after the jury. Sometimes the role of the tipstaff is undertaken by a second associate.

Lawyers

The parties are usually represented by lawyers. There are two types of lawyers involved in a trial; barristers (also called 'counsel') and solicitors.
The lawyer conducting the case for each side (usually a barrister) wears robes and sits at the bar table facing the judge. The other lawyers and law clerks sit opposite, to assist during the trial.

Criminal trial - the parties

In a criminal trial the parties are called the prosecution or Crown (terms which may be used interchangeably) and the defence:

  • Prosecution/Crown - brings the evidence against the accused person. The prosecution lawyer represents the State and is called the Crown prosecutor.
  • Defence - the person who has been charged with an offence is called the 'accused' (sometimes there is more than one accused). He or she may be represented by a lawyer (defence counsel) or may represent himself or herself.

Civil trial - the parties

In a civil trial, the parties are called the plaintiff and the defendant:

  • Plaintiff - the person bringing the action, or suing the other person; 
  • Defendant - the person defending the action, or being sued. 

Other people in the courtroom

In a criminal trial there will often be police or security officers in the courtroom. Courts are normally open to the public, and so there will often be other people observing in the body of the courtroom.

How does the jury reach a verdict?

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After all the evidence has been given and summed up in court, the judge will ask the jury to retire to the jury room to consider their verdict. During this time, you must not talk to anyone about the case except other jury members. All discussion must take place in the privacy of the jury deliberation room and when all jurors are present.

A jury makes a decision based on evidence presented in the court. This includes evidence given by witnesses and physical objects (exhibits) like photographs or documents. The jury's verdict must be based only on the evidence presented during the trial. Because evidence is so important, there are strict rules about what evidence can be given in court and what sorts of questions can be asked. Sometimes, jurors are asked to leave the court while these legal points are discussed by the judge and lawyers.

As a juror, can I do my own research outside court?

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Under the Juries Act 2000 (Vic), there are penalties of more than $15,000 for conducting your own research at any time during the trial.

This includes:

  • talking to another person about the trial;
  • using the internet or other means to get information about people involved in the trial or any other aspect of the trial;
  • looking at a place or object relevant to the trial;
  • conducting an experiment;
  • asking someone else to make enquiries on your behalf.

This page was last updated: Wednesday 27 April 2016 - 2:49pm