Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Juries Discharged during snap COVID Lockdown

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (12:26): My question is to the Attorney-General. I know the snap lockdown had great effects on the legal system in terms of discharging juries, as somehow trials were not deemed an essential service. I recently found out that a jury presiding over a rape case was discharged as a result of the most recent snap lockdown and therefore a new jury will need to be empanelled. This means the complainant will now have to endure two trials against their perpetrator to receive an outcome. On their website the County Court states that, and I quote: Jury empanelments were paused for three days … as the Court responded to the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown. Empanelments immediately resumed upon the lifting of those restrictions. I just do not know how jury service could not be deemed an essential service during the snap lockdown when you could go to a crowded supermarket, take the kids to the playground or even go to Dan Murphy’s, not that I have got a problem with that. My question is: Attorney, can you tell me how many juries were discharged during the snap lockdown and why jury service was not deemed essential?

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (12:28): Thank you, Attorney, for that extended answer. I appreciate that information. Courts have been under fire for the past few weeks after delays in the legal system have become public. In just one example, Tammy Mills wrote in an article in the Age that: Criminal and family violence cases waiting to be finalised by the Magistrates Court have doubled … … The number of pending cases before the … Magistrates Court has doubled for criminal matters and increased by 45 per cent for family violence cases … which is just amazing. My concerns lie with the victims of course, but I also realise that these delays may also mean that there are innocent people being locked up for longer or not receiving the help they need as a result of these cases not being heard. These figures were taken up to 5 February, so before the five-day snap lockdown. I have given an example of one way more pressure is being put on our justice system, so my supplementary question is: Attorney, how has the snap lockdown further impacted backlogs in our legal system?


Keep up with the latest
Western Victoria News.

Subscribe to my newsletter…

Enter your details to keep up to date with what I am doing in Parliament and in the community.