How Criminal Trials Work: Jury Selection

1st August 2023
Category Criminal Law

In this second part of a series on how criminal trials work in NSW, RMB Lawyers Managing Partner CRAIG OSBORNE explains jury selection.

The first part of this series covered the criminal law process from arrest to the point of trial. Let's have a look at how jury selection works.

Weeks before a trial, potential jurors are chosen at random from the electoral roll and receive a summons to attend Court on a certain day. They can log onto a government website the day before the trial date to confirm if they are still required. 

On attendance jurors are given a juror card with a number on it.  Their privacy is always protected, with no personal details made available to any party.

Once the trial is ready to start potential jurors are taken into the court room for jury selection. A court officer reads out the names of witnesses involved in the trial, including police, prosecution witnesses, the accused, the accused's witnesses and legal representatives.

Potential jurors must advise the Judge if they know any of those people. If they do they will often be excused from jury duty to avoid any perception of bias.

The Judge's Associate then draws out remaining juror numbers from a ballot box.  If a juror's number is called, they are asked to sit in the jury box.

Once there are 12 jurors in the jury box the juror numbers are called a second time. Both the prosecutor and the defence counsel can challenge a juror without giving any reasons, with a maximum of three challenges each. 

Being challenged as a potential juror does not mean you are a bad person or not a good juror.

Our system is not like the US where prosecution and defence lawyers receive considerable information about potential jurors and even have investigators dig into their backgrounds.  In NSW the system is quite random with very little knowledge and insight about jurors provided to the prosecution and defence. 

Once the challenges have been exhausted and there is a full panel of 12 jurors, each are asked to swear an oath or affirm (that is promising to the Court) that they will carry out their duties fairly. 

The jury then chooses a representative or foreperson to deliver the verdict at the end of the trial and answer any questions the court may ask the jury.  The foreperson does not have any higher level of voting than the other jurors.

NEXT: The Trial

If you require further information, or simply need advice from experienced criminal lawyer, your first step should be to contact our office to arrange a free consultation. You can contact us by by phone or our 'Ask a Question' tool on our website.