Media Release - Commission examines role of jurors with hearing and sight disabilities (4 April 2002)



The New South Wales Law Reform Commission will examine impediments in the justice system for jurors who have a significant hearing or sight impairment.

At present, a person is ineligible to serve on a jury if they have an illness, infirmity or disability that is severe enough to prevent them fulfilling their duties as a juror.

"Jury service is an important civic responsibility and anyone who is prepared to serve should not be needlessly excluded," Executive Director of the Commission, Peter Hennessy, said.

"The Commission's review will examine the present system to determine whether there is a need to exclude people from juries on the basis of serious hearing or vision impairment or if these people are being unnecessarily barred from jury duty.

"It also will examine ways of improving facilities and services to better support those who do want to carry out their civic duty in this way.

"Courts already have access plans to assist people with a range of disabilities involved in legal proceedings, whether as defendants, witnesses or other parties. The Commission will consider whether these plans adequately assist those who are deaf or blind and who want to serve as jurors."

The Commission sought a referencefrom the Attorney General to examine the matter following issues raised by the Deaf Society of New South Wales and the Attorney General's Department's Disability Advisory Council.

As part of its review of the relevant part of theJury Act, the Commission will consider New South Wales' Anti-discrimination Act, the Commonwealth's Disability Discrimination Act and the need to maintain confidence in the administration of justice in New South Wales.

The Commission is now seeking community input on what issues should be included in a consultation paper to be released later in the year.

Anyone wishing to raise relevant issues should contact the Commission by telephone on (02) 9228 8230, TTY (02) 9228 7676 or by e-mail at nsw_lrc@agd.nsw.gov.au.

Media enquiries:


Peter Hennessy, Executive Director, NSW Law Reform Commission (02) 9228 8230.