The District Court of NSW this week announced that criminal jury trials, suspended due to the COVID-19 lockdown, will recommence from 25 October 2021. However, some important new measures will be implemented.
What you need to know
For the first time, the following will apply to jury trials in Sydney and other selected areas:
These requirements are significant and unprecedented. Much of the responsibility in obtaining the vaccination status of accused and witnesses, rests with solicitors. Importantly, any court participant has a right to decline to provide their vaccination status.
Other District Court criminal proceedings in the selected areas will continue to proceed remotely for now. This is to reduce the number of people in the court complex and provide more space for juries.
The backlog of criminal trials over the recent lock-down has been significant. A resumption in trials is welcome by all, but time will tell how these measures impact the trial process. For example, will important witnesses who would otherwise be in the same room as a jury give evidence remotely? How will the trial process be impacted if an accused is not in the same room as their lawyers or the jury?
Image Credit: Geoffrey Whiteway