How a jury is selected
The final stage of jury selection and empanelling, takes place in court after you report for jury service.
You must report to the court which is listed on your jury summons. Please log on to juror.nsw.gov.au the day before you are required to attend jury service, to confirm that you are still required to come.
For details of how to do this, what to bring, and what to wear on your first day at court, please go to the Jury summons court checklist section.
After passing through security screening at the court building you will be shown to the jury assembly room and asked for proof of identification and your jury summons notice.
You will be handed a juror card with a number on it. Your personal details, including name and address, are not used during jury selection or in court. You are simply known by the number on your juror card.
This is to ensure your name is not disclosed and that your privacy is protected. Please do not provide your personal information to anyone other than a sheriff's officer.
The jury process will be explained and you will be shown a short video about what to expect in court. There may be some delay as preliminary matters are dealt with by the court before jury selection starts.
Empanelling a jury
Once the trial is ready to commence, potential jurors are taken in groups into the courtroom. This is where members of the jury are selected.
The names of people involved in the trial will be read out. This will include witnesses, police, the accused and legal representatives. If you know any of these you must advise the judge.
The judge's associate draws out juror numbers from a ballot box. If your number is called you will be asked to take a seat in the jury box.
Once you and the other selected jurors are in the jury box, the juror numbers are called a second time. Both the prosecutor and the defence counsel can challenge (reject) a juror without giving reasons. They are each allowed a maximum of three challenges. This is not a personal reflection on you. This is a right under our laws.
If you are not included in the final jury selection because of a challenge, you must remain at the court complex in case you are needed for another trial. A sheriff's officer will tell you when you are free to go.
Swearing in a jury
Once the challenges have been exhausted and there is a full panel of jurors, each person who has been selected is asked to take an oath (swear to god) or an affirmation (promise to the court) to carry out his or her task faithfully and impartially.
The jury chooses a representative or foreperson, who will deliver the verdict at the end of the trial and answer any question the court may ask the jury. Other than these responsibilities, the foreperson has the same responsibilities as any other juror. Any person on the jury can be the foreperson.
How long will the trial last?
This depends on many factors, including the number of accused and complexity of the matter. Trials can continue for days, weeks or months. However, the average length of a trial in NSW is seven days.
Jurors are told at the beginning of the empanelling process how long the trial is estimated to last, and are invited to raise any issues they may have due to the trial length.
You can ask to be assigned a shorter trial on the day you report for jury service.
Asking to be excused the day you report to court
There are two opportunities to ask to be excused from jury service on the day you report for jury service at court. You can either:
- ask a sheriff's officer, even if your application to be excused has previously been turned down.
- present reasons why you should be excused to the judge.
For more information, see Applying to be excused from jury service.