When will jury trials resume?
Criminal jury trials will resume in Melbourne from 16 November 2020.
How long will I be required for?
Your jury service will be at least 3 days. However, please ensure you have up to 2 weeks available from your summons date.
Will trials take longer due to the COVID-19 measures?
Staggered sitting times, to minimise the congregation of people entering and exiting the court building, may add some time to the overall length of a trial, but not by any substantial amount of time.
What measures will be taken to protect jurors from COVID-19?
Jury pools will be formed virtually, with only smaller groups (jury panels of approximately 30-45 people) required to attend court at staggered times. Physical distancing will be maintained throughout the empanelment and trial process. Jurors will be seated apart from one another in the courtroom and provided with much larger spaces for their jury deliberation room. Masks will be worn in accordance with public health directions and advice.
Hygiene measures including regular cleaning will also be in place and the handling of common objects will be minimised.
How will large gatherings be avoided?
In ordinary circumstances, up to 200 people attend the County Court building to form the jury pool for trials across the Supreme Court and the County Court. During COVID-19, pools will be formed virtually, and only smaller panels, comprising about 30-45 people will attend at any given time. Where more than one panel is formed each day, the jury pool room will be cleaned before each new group uses the room.
How will the courts provide larger spaces?
A trial court will be paired with another nearby courtroom or large space, where the entire space will serve as the jury deliberation room.
Will there be additional cleaning?
Yes. The courts have put in place arrangements for regular cleaning of the jury pool room, empanelment courtroom, trial courtrooms and jury deliberation areas with a focus on high touch surfaces.
What will be the seating arrangements in the courtroom?
Seating arrangements will differ for each courtroom. In some courtrooms in the Supreme Court, the usual seating arrangements will be reconfigured to allow appropriate physical distancing of all individuals.
In the County Court, the seating configuration will remain the same as usual, however, modifications have been made to the court to ensure appropriate physical distancing.
In both the Supreme and County Courts, jurors and all other attendees in the courtroom will be instructed to use the same seat throughout the trial.
How far apart will each person be?
In line with Victorian public health advice, people in the courtroom will be seated 1.5m apart. Signs or markings will indicate which seats may be used and which may not.
Who will jury summonses be sent to?
Initially, summonses will only be sent to people who live in metropolitan Melbourne. Only those people who completed an eligibility form earlier in 2020 will be summonsed for jury service in 2020.
New eligibility forms are also currently being sent out. However, if you receive an eligibility form between October 2020 and the end of the year, you will not be summonsed for jury service until 2021.
When will regional trials resume?
The courts are progressing plans for the resumption of jury trials at regional courts, applying similar measures that have been adopted for jury trials in Melbourne. At this stage, the courts have not announced a date for the resumption of jury trials in regional locations.
How long will the COVID-19 measures be in place?
The courts anticipate that physical distancing will be required for quite some time, although the exact timeframe will depend on public health advice. The courts have developed the COVID-19 measures in consultation with Victorian public health experts, and they will be in effect for as long as Victorian public health experts consider appropriate.
Will my travel costs be reimbursed?
Yes. In addition to your juror payment, you will receive reimbursement of reasonable travel costs to avoid the use of public transport if you are required to attend court. Further information on the reimbursement of travel costs can be found under Attending for Jury Service here.