First Day of Trial

Court hours

Generally, a court sits between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm Monday to Friday with a lunch break between 12.45 pm and 2.15 pm. A morning tea break is also allowed for.

How should I dress?

Neatly and comfortably.

What do I need to bring?

You must bring your jury summons. Otherwise only bring what you would normally take with you on a day away from home or the office. Paper and pencils are provided.

Can I bring a mobile phone or pager?

Yes, but you will have to turn it off during the empanelling process. If you are empanelled – that is, chosen to serve on a jury – in Hobart, you will need to leave your mobile phone and any other electronic devices such as E Readers, IPods or laptops with the receptionist for safe keeping before entering the courtroom or jury room each day.

Arrangements for safe keeping of your phones and other electronic devices vary in the different court locations.

The officer in charge of the juries in each location will advise you where to deposit your phones and other devices.

What happens first?

You go to the jury assembly room. There are signs directing you to this room, but if you are in doubt court staff will be there to direct you. A court official or the Deputy Sheriff, will check who is present and then give you more information on what is involved. He/she will then answer any questions that you may have.

Empanelling the Jury

Empanelling is the way jurors are chosen to serve on a particular trial. This is how it works:

The Judge’s Associate selects cards one at a time from the box until twelve potential jurors are seated in the jury box.

Once twelve jurors are seated in the jury box, Crown Counsel will be invited to announce those jurors he/she wishes to “Stand Aside”. Once all persons “Stood Aside” leave the jury box and return to the back of the Court Defence Counsel (or the accused if he/she is unrepresented) is then invited to make his/her “Challenges”. Any persons “Challenged” leave the jury box and return to the back of the Court.

The persons “Stood Aside” or “Challenged” are then replaced by the Judge’s Associate drawing the required number of cards out of the box until there are again twelve potential jurors in the jury box.

The process of “Standing Aside” and “Challenging” is repeated until no more persons are “Stood Aside” or “Challenged”.

Crown Counsel can “Stand Aside” as many potential jurors as he/she wishes whilst Defence Counsel can only “Challenge” up to six potential jurors without giving a reason. Defence Counsel/Accused can however “Challenge” any number of potential jurors for “Cause” and if this happens he/she must state the reason for the “Challenge for Cause” and the Judge will decide if the reason is valid.

It is important to remember that being “Stood Aside” or “Challenged” involves no reflection on your character or ability. It is simply part of the random process by which jurors are selected. It is possible that you can be “Challenged” or “Stood Aside” in one trial and be empanelled on another trial during your period of jury service.

The Judge will then explain that the members of the jury can either take an oath or make an affirmation. The Judge will ask those taking an oath to stand and will direct his or her Attendant to swear them in. The members of the jury are sworn in as a group. Those making an affirmation will then be asked to stand and will make the affirmation as a group.

In a civil trial

The procedure is similar in that the cards are put in a box and selected one at a time until there are seven jurors in the jury box.

Jurors in a civil trial can only be “challenged” and not “stood aside” as is the case with criminal trials.

Once all seven jurors are seated in the jury box counsel for each party will be asked if they wish to “challenge” any of the jurors. If they “challenge” any of the jurors more names will be selected to take their place. When there are no more “challenges” the jurors will be sworn/affirmed together and not individually as in criminal trials.

In a civil trial counsel for each party can only challenge four jurors.

What if someone approaches me about my jury duty?

If any approach is made to you – either in person, by phone or in writing – that causes you concern about the discharge of your duties as  a member of a jury panel, you should immediately notify the Deputy Sheriff.

What if I am not chosen to serve on a jury?

If you are not chosen to serve on a jury on the first day, the Judge or Deputy Sheriff will advise you that you are able to leave for the rest of the day.

If you are not empanelled, you are expected (if possible) to return to your place of employment.

Before you leave the courthouse, you will be advised when you are required to attend again. In most cases this advice is “subject to notice”.

That means you must ring the after hours number, shown on the jury pamphlet which accompanied your jury summons, after 5.00 pm on the day before you are required again. A message will advise if you are required to attend on the following day, or at another date and time, or that you are discharged from further attendance.