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  • To date, no deaf person has served on a jury in Australia.
  • The High Court recently dismissed an appeal against a deaf person’s exclusion from being a juror, as the Jury Act 1995 (Qld) did not allow disclosure of jury deliberations to a non-juror (Auslan interpreter) and there was no power to administer an oath to an interpreter for jury deliberations.
  • The UN has recommended NSW take steps to accommodate the participation of deaf people on juries.

A deaf person cannot serve on a jury in most states and territories of Australia. In Western Australia, one deaf person has remained in a pool of people who can be empanelled as a juror, but to date they have not been selected to serve.

It is only in Victoria, NSW and Queensland that a deaf person has actually sought to be included in a jury and has been excluded. In those cases, the exclusion was based on a lack of legislative power to swear in a person who is not empanelled as a juror, and the prohibition on jurors discussing their deliberations with non-jurors (in both cases, the sign language interpreter) (Jury Act 1977 (NSW) ss 50, 72A(1)).

Prior to 2012, there were no cases in Australia where the issue of a deaf person serving on a jury had been fully examined by a court. The case of Ms Gaye Lyons changed all that.

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