The changes reflect recommendations in the NSW Law Reform Commission report of 2007 and build on the Jury Amendment Act 2008 (NSW). Hasten slowly, it seems, when there's more fun to be had grabbing headlines and encouraging legal populism through exceptional action against the odious Mr Ferguson or Bill Henson. Changes to the NSW jury regime have been glacial, with women for example becoming eligible for service as late as 1947 - many years after gaining the vote - through Jury (Amendment) Act 1947 (NSW) s 3.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos is reported as indicating that changes to the Jury Act will "broaden the jury pool" by extending eligibility for jury service to people over 70, lawyers who do not practise in criminal law, former judges and magistrates, former prosecutors, defence lawyers and staff from law enforcement and emergency service agencies.
Bodies such as the NSW Council for Civil Liberties have raised concerns, questioning whether justice is served by removing the current exemption and thereby creating an environment in which legal experts are not only eligible but on occasion are required to serve on juries.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman Greg Smith SC, a former deputy director of public prosecutions and more recently noted for recording "a version of 'The Ballad of Epping Road' with members of my band, the Tokens", (come back, John Laws, all is forgiven) claimed that -
The presence of criminal law experts in the jury room could unduly influence less educated jurors,.The Telegraph's editorial is more succinct, concluding that -
The proposal to lift the prohibition on former judges, lawyers, particularly prosecution and legal aid lawyers, as well as former police raises serious issues as to whether these expert or specialist jurors will dominate deliberations in the jury room and influence jurors who defer to their greater knowledge and experience.
As it is not normal practice for the trial judge to question jurors as to why they reached a particular verdict, inappropriate domination of jury deliberations by an expert would largely remain secret.
It should be noted that the NSW Council of Civil Liberties disagrees about some of those changes. Fine. This should be taken as a recommendation and calm anyone with doubts over the proposed alterations.Using that heuristic, NSWCCL opposition to suggestions that the editor be placed in a large vat of rancid tomcat grease and slowly boiled to death would signal that murder is a damn good thing. It is disappointing, given recurrent protestations from the Telegraph's publisher regarding journalistic standards and professionalism, that the editorial offers such a simplistic response to serious questions.
They are currently exempt and therefore not available for jury duty but if the new legislation is passed they would not only be available but required to serve on juries unless they could show good reason not to.
tabloids that gives 'professional