The high figure for the last two-and-a-half years disturbs and perplexes legal experts in the area
According to data released by the Ministry of Justice to the Otago Daily Times, nearly 3000, or 26.5% of the 11,170 who were called up for jury duty in the Dunedin district court or High Court between mid-2013 and 2016, were no-shows.
Frazer Barton, New Zealand Law Society Otago branch president, told the publication that it was a “disturbing trend” while Dunedin Crown solicitor Robin Bates said he was “surprised” by the revelation.
Only 2,259, or 20.2%, of those called reportedly turned up for jury duty while 2,827 gave the Ministry of Justuce a valid excuse. Meanwhile, 3,129 are said to have deferred their jury duty at a later date within a year from being called.
“Rather than people sitting back and complaining about the justice system, this is the opportunity the average person has to have a say,” said Barton who stressed to the Otago Daily Times how fundamental jury duty is as a civic duty.
“There's a disturbing trend of people not wanting to buy into this. They'd rather sit on the fence and complain about the law, justice, the government or the police,” he said. “'I would've thought Dunedin, being quite a large university-based town, might have a better strike rate than that.”
Meanwhile, Dunedin Crown solicitor Robin Bate said he was surprised but also noted that the area still has a good mix of good people for its juries.
“It really surprises me, actually, because historically I thought we were actually pretty civic-minded,” he said.
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