ACT Modernises Jury System

Australian Greens

The ACT has today passed new laws to protect the integrity of jury trials and streamline the process, reducing delays and costs for all involved.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 makes it an offence for jurors to conduct their own investigations outside of the courtroom, a practice that can lead to mistrials. The Bill also introduces majority verdicts in Territory criminal offences, helping to prevent hung juries and the need for retrials.

“In a diverse community people may not always agree, resulting in hung juries. This not only causes delays and increased costs, but also adds emotional strain for victims, accused people and others involved in the proceedings,” said ACT Attorney‑General Shane Rattenbury.

“The community expects both an efficient and a fair justice system. These reforms will help prevent retrials and give the community confidence in our jury system.”

The new protections include:

  • Greater juror accountability: The new law makes it an offence for jurors to seek information about a trial independently, such as through online searches, strengthening the fairness of the trial process.
  • Majority verdicts allowed: In trials for Territory criminal offences, courts may now accept a verdict if 11 out of 12 jurors agree, minimising the risk of hung juries and retrials.

“These reforms were developed in consultation with key justice sector stakeholders,” said the Attorney‑General.

“Feedback from the justice sector was strongly supportive of updating our jury laws.

“We understand the vital role jurors play in our criminal justice system. These new laws make their responsibilities clear- both for jurors and the community – and will make the process of coming to a verdict more efficient,” Minister Rattenbury said.

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