The Jury System in NSW
On 18 July 2009 the nation woke to news of the brutal murders of five members of the Lin family who were slain in their home as they slept. Family member Robert Xie was charged with all 5 murders, accused with bludgeoning the family to death with a hammer-like object.
The matter was presented before the Supreme Court of NSW for a full criminal trial. After 11 days of deliberation, the 12 member jury have now been instructed by Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton that she will accept a majority verdict, being a verdict from no less than 11 members of the 12 member jury, as opposed to the usual requirement for a unanimous verdict whereby all jurors must agree on their decision of guilty or not guilty.
In the case of the Lim family murders, the Judge has decided that a majority verdict of 11 to 1 will be accepted. This is significant because it means that even a detractor, the Defendant may still be found guilty of the brutal murders.
Most adult members of the community will be called for jury duty at some stage in their lives. This involves attending a Courthouse on a nominated date and, if selected, sitting in on trials and deliberating a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict with your fellow jurors. You will be required to examine evidence, hear witness testimony and consider the submissions of the relevant parties’ lawyers before making your decision.
You can be excused from jury duty if it is likely to cause serious hardship to you, you have a disability that renders you unsuitable, there is a conflict of interest (e.g. you know the accused) or you have some other legitimate reason, such as a health condition, that prevents you from serving on a jury.