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LRC report recommends non-Irish citizens for jury duty

The Law Reform Commission is also recommending that up to three additional jurors are selected for long-running trials.

The report is to be launched by Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, judge of the Supreme Court, at the Commission’s offices at 6pm this evening (file photo).
The report is to be launched by Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, judge of the Supreme Court, at the Commission’s offices at 6pm this evening (file photo).
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION (LRC) is recommending that non-Irish citizens become eligible for jury duty and that up to three additional jurors are selected for long-running trials.

The recommendations are contained in the LRC’s report on Jury Service which is being launched this evening, and forms part of the commission’s Third Programme of Law Reform.

Among the 56 recommendations contained in the report are:

  • Jury panels should also include EU citizens and other long-term residents (at least 5 years). This would add about 200,000 persons to those qualified for jury service.
  • Jurors should be able to read, write, speak and understand English to the extent that they can carry out their functions.
  • The existing blanket excusal from jury service “as of right” for many professionals and public servants should be repealed, and be replaced by an individualised excusal “for good cause.”
  • Jurors should be allowed deferral of service for up to 12 months to facilitate those who have good reasons to decline jury service.
  • A person with a disability should be eligible for jury service unless the disability would mean that he or she could not perform the duties of a juror.
  • The number of objections to jurors without the need to give any reason (peremptory challenges) – which is currently seven for both the prosecution and the defence – should be retained; and pre-trial questionnaires to jurors should continue to be prohibited.
  • A modest daily flat rate payment should be paid to jurors to cover their travel and subsistence costs; and the government should do what they can to alleviate the financial burden that jury service involves for small businesses and self-employed persons.

Jury tampering, internet access and numbers

The report also recommends that, to address jury tampering, the right to inspect the jury panel should be limited to being examined by legal advisers four days before the start of a trial; and that the law on jury tampering should be set out in a single comprehensive offence.

It is also recommended that juries be given a specific warning not to access the internet during a trial and that a specific offence is created to address this.

In cases where a trial is expected to extend beyond three months, the report recommends that a court should be allowed to empanel up to three additional jurors.

The Report also recommends that research should be carried out on matters such as jury representativeness, juror comprehension, juror management and juror capacity and competence.

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Paul Hyland

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