On this page:

  • How is a Jury Selected?
  • Why do some juries get discharged during trials?

How is A Jury Selected?

Potential jurors are summonsed to attend Court – providing they are eligible to attend jury duty. They are generally formed into groups of between 24 and 36 people called the jury panel. The jury panel then attends the court and the accused person confirms the plea of not guilty. The crown prosecutor gives an indication of what the matter is about and the names of potential witnesses – to make sure that a potential jury member does not have a personal difficulty in being able to fairly sit as a juror and to make sure that the potential juror does not know a witness.

Each member of the jury panel is given a number and the numbers of 12 people are drawn from a box. Those 12 then go to the jury area where both the prosecution and the accused have the right to challenge up to 3 people. No questions can be asked of the jury members – selection of a jury is very much a product of the experience of the criminal lawyer. There is no substitute for experience. If a potential jury member is challenged, they stand down and another number is drawn.

Why do some juries get discharged during trials?

Juries can be discharged if some members are found to be not paying attention; if a witness discloses something that is unfairly prejudicial to the accused and not permitted by the rules of evidence; where it is shown that jurors have been making their own inquiries about the matter instead of limiting their attention to the evidence; where a juror becomes ill during a trial and it is considered unfair to the accused to proceed – there are many potential reasons. Ultimately, the trial of an accused person must be fair.

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