Law Reform Commission report calls for reform of jury service system

Monday 15 April 2013 20.13
The Law Reform Commission said the proposals could make 200,000 extra people available for jury service
The Law Reform Commission said the proposals could make 200,000 extra people available for jury service

Allowing non-Irish citizens and people with certain disabilities to serve on juries are among the proposals contained in a new Law Reform Commission report.

Stopping the blanket excusing of certain professionals and public servants to ensure juries are more representative are among the measures proposed.

The payment of a basic allowance to jurors and ways to alleviate loss of earnings are among the other recommendations.

Doctors, nurses, teachers or other public servants currently have a right to exclude themselves from jury duty.

People with certain types of disability may also be excluded.

However, the Law Reform Commission wants this to change to make juries more representative of Irish society.

It said allowing EU citizens and those who have been resident in Ireland for at least five years would make around 200,000 extra people available for jury duty.

It said those who have genuine reasons why they cannot carry out jury duty could defer their service for 12 months.

As well as a basic allowance to jurors to cover their travel and subsistence costs, the commission said ways of alleviating the financial burden of serving on a jury for the self-employed should be considered.

It also proposes that the inappropriate accessing of information on the internet by juries be made a specific offence.

It wants more research to be carried out about jury representativeness, comprehension and competence.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Pat Kenny, Tom O'Malley of the Law Reform Commission said that the blanket excuse for many professionals and public servants should be scrapped and replaced by individual excuse "for good cause".

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has welcomed the proposals to make some migrants eligible for jury duty.

Immigrant Council Chief Executive Denise Charlton said: "Any step which removes barriers which prevent migrants from participating fully in Irish life is to be welcomed, and on that basis we believe the proposal from the Law Reform Commission is a positive step."

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