Inclusive juries: community survey (online form)

Inclusive Juries – Access for People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Have Low Vision: Community Survey

You can respond to this survey by typing your responses into the Responses box below the questions. Answer as many or as few questions as you like. Send your responses to us by clicking 'Submit'. Alternatively,  you can email your responses to us at juries@lawreform.vic.gov.au, or record your responses as an audio or video file and send it to us at juries@lawreform.vic.gov.au. 

1. Do you have any experience of not being able to serve as a juror in Victoria because you are deaf, hard of hearing or blind or have low vision? What happened? If you were not able to serve, was it because you were discouraged from joining or remaining in the jury pool, or were you excused by the judge or Juries Victoria, or for some other reason?

2 What type of supports might people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision need to serve on juries and what would be the best way to explore those needs with the court? For example, support people, Auslan interpreters, captioning services, magnified documents, assistance animals and a tour of the court rooms.

3 Should people who provide support or Auslan interpretation to the juror during the trial be required to provide an oath/s to court to keep discussions confidential and not to get involved?

4 What do you think some of the misconceptions are in the broader community about the ability of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision to serve on a jury?

5 Are there circumstances where vision or hearing loss may mean that it is not possible for a person to serve on a jury because of an inability to comprehend evidence that is likely to be critical to the verdict? For example, assessing voice or visual identification evidence like CCTV footage, phone messages or the truthfulness of a witness?

In the consultation paper we give the hypothetical example of a trial where the key issue to be determined by the jury was whether the accused was the person who left a phone message. There was no other identification evidence presented.

We also provide the example of a case in America that examined the extent of a victim’s injuries. The judge held that a blind juror could serve because identification of the accused was not in issue and the juror was able to determine the extent of injury through doctors’ reports and the testimony of the victim and not just by looking at photos of the person.

6 If a potential juror cannot serve on a particular jury because of the nature of the expected evidence, should that person return to the pool and be able to serve on another trial with a different type of expected evidence?

7 If the law changes to enable people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision to serve with reasonable supports, should there be a right to be excused because of disability? Or should a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision only be able to be excused on the same basis as everyone else in the community, on a case-by-case basis and for good reason?

The current law provides people with disabilities the option to seek to be excused from jury service on a permanent basis. The law also provides excuse for ‘good reason’ on a non-permanent basis including because of illness, poor health or substantial hardship.

8 Do you have any other comments to make about the issues raised in the summary or consultation papers, including changes to legislation and practice?

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