SUPREME COURT OF TASMANIA — SUSPENSION OF JURY TRIALS
18 March 2020
The judges of the Supreme Court of Tasmania resolved this afternoon that no jury trials will be commenced in Tasmania for at least four months. The Chief Justice of Tasmania, the Honourable Alan Blow AO, announced that no jury trials will commence until at least 21 July. All jurors who have received summonses requiring them to attend court this month are no longer required to attend. This applies to courts in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.
Initially it was hoped that jury trials could resume next week. Precautions were planned for social distancing, and other health and safety arrangements. However it was decided to cancel the plan to resume jury trials, for a number of reasons.
The level of public alarm about the Coronavirus has become so great that it would not be fair to compel people to serve on juries at this time. If jury trials went ahead, there would be a danger of jurors being distracted by concern about their health and safety. Many people required for jury trials would be unable or unwilling to attend court, including busy health professionals, lawyers and witnesses with compromised immune systems, other vulnerable individuals, and people required to self-isolate.
The judges will continue to deal with other cases including pleas of guilty, bail matters, appeals, pre-recording of evidence, and civil cases. The court registries in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie will remain open. So far as possible, steps will be taken to avoid the need for people to come to court, and to protect them from any risk of infection when they have to come to court.