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Role of a jury

Juries are used in the NSW District and Supreme Courts to:

  • hear and determine more serious criminal matters

  • hear and determine civil matters involving large monetary claims

Juries are also used in coronial inquests in the NSW Coroner's Court.

Image of a row of people writing 

Criminal trials

In criminal trials, a jury hears evidence, applies the law as directed by the judge, and decides if a person is guilty or not guilty of a crime, based on the facts. A jury does not participate in the sentencing process.

In most criminal trials, 12 people are selected to be on the jury. Up to 15 jurors can be empanelled if a trial is expected to last longer than three months. To be empanelled means to be chosen for a specific trial.

Civil trials

Civil trials which require juries are usually defamation proceedings. The trial judge will outline the issues the jury needs to consider to decide who is at fault. A civil trial jury is typically comprised of 4 jurors, however, in the Supreme Court, 12 jurors may be ordered.

How many people end up doing jury service?

Each year, the names of around 200,000 potential jurors are randomly selected from the NSW Electoral Roll and included on a jury roll (list).

Approximately 150,000 people on the roll are sent a jury summons notice at some point in the year. This notice requires them to come to court, where they may be selected as a juror for a specific trial. Out of these, just 9,000 people a year are selected to serve on jury panels for specific trials. They are then empanelled as jurors.