Chief judges modify jury selection process

Modifications to apply to jury trials before the High Court and District Court

Chief judges modify jury selection process
The High Court in Auckland, New Zealand

Chief judges of the High Court and District Court have issued a protocol modifying the Jury Rules 1990 to protect the health and safety of jurors, while allowing jury trials to proceed in 2022.

The protocol will enable jury selection to take place in 2022, using processes that protect the health and safety of people summoned for jury service during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take effect on January 24, 2022.

The protocol will primarily modify the jury selection process to limit the number of people required to be assembled in one place at any one time, while ensuring that the jury selection process remains transparent and efficient.

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The protocol will allow prospective jurors to be assembled in different areas of the courthouse to facilitate physical distancing and enable groups of prospective jurors to be kept separate during the jury selection process.

The protocol will allow preliminary balloting to take place at a different location, if there are capacity constraints at the courthouse, and on a day before the trial is due to begin, so that only the jurors who have been balloted for a particular trial need to come to the courthouse on the day of that trial.  

It will also allow pre-balloting to occur without prospective jurors being present.

In addition, prospective jurors will be given the opportunity to observe or listen to the pre-balloting process by remote technology and advised of the outcome, so they may be notified if they need to come to the courthouse on the day of the trial.

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