Australia

Warning about “reducing justice” as a small jury proposed to overcome the COVID hurdle

The Victorian Criminal Bar Association opposes a move to reduce the number of juries in the trial and believes that doing so would jeopardize the judiciary.

The jury trial has been suspended since March, and the county court, which hears most of Victoria’s criminal trials, estimates that 750 defendants have since postponed the trial. This figure does not include other defendants currently scheduled for trial in 2022.

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The court hopes that the jury trial can be resumed by the end of the year, but it will focus on the socially distant jury in the court and assign an empty court as a forum for the jury trial. The number is limited.

Defenders of small juries believe the bill will help courts go to more trials and increase intrusion into the unprocessed portion.

However, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, Daniel Grubich, said that reducing the number of juries means that a smaller cross-section of the community would be represented, so resizing the jury is “true attention.” Said that it should be considered.

“Since 12 people have been recognized as the right numbers for hundreds of years, reducing that number is a compromise to justice, which increases the chances of a miscarriage of justice,” Gurvich said.

“We cannot admit a decrease in numbers because it is a decrease in justice.”

Mr. Grubich expected the jury trial to resume in 2020, but abolished the compulsory sentence for some crimes, held a judgment hearing to encourage the accused to plead guilty, and a vacant jury. He said other measures, such as conducting a trial, could reduce the number of unsolved cases. Public building.

Prosecutor Shadow’s Edward Odnoue said another measure could be adopted for the High Court to hear the judge in January, which traditionally breaks the summer.

“It will be difficult to tackle the unprocessed portion that currently exists, so we need an innovative solution to bring the judiciary system back to life,” he said.

“Victims and those charged with serious crimes have the right to spend their days in court.”

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The Supreme Court and the County Court said in a joint statement: “The court continues to work with Victorian lawyers and others to safely resume jury trials at the right time.

“The court expects to be in a position to provide further information once a broader public health assessment of the relaxation of restrictions is published.”

Due to the suspension of the jury trial, judges have mainly focused on trials and judgments, appeals, bail applications, and trials for pre-trial legal discussions. In most cases it will be done remotely.

Earlier this year, the Andrews government allowed courts to try judges only, but only a handful of defendants adopted the option.

The Victorian Magistrates’ Court has some unprocessed proceedings that have already been postponed in tens of thousands of proceedings this year. The lower court does not hold a trial.

Within a few weeks, the Magistrates’ Court will hold an online hearing for those who have postponed the proceedings this year.

Notes from the editor

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Adam Cooper joined The Age in 2011 after spending 10 years at AAP. Email or tweet news tips to Adam.

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