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May 27, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Judges, Juries and Duress

Victoria student Skye Webb was left behind in her studies and seeking medical help for stress after confusion over a jury summons.

Ms Webb, originally from Whangarei, was told she had to complete jury service while back home on a study break.

Webb sent a letter from the University explaining that she was a full-time student whose studies would suffer if she was forced to do jury service. She also claimed to have sent a copy of her tenancy agreement to the Ministry of Justice to prove that she now lives in Wellington, and thus could not be called upon to complete jury service in her hometown.

Despite this, Ms Webb was called by a court staff member and required to attend, being selected on the jury. After managing to explain her circumstances to the judge, she was granted leave from service but nonetheless asked to return later in the week which she refused to do, instead heading back to Wellington.

“I wasted three days worrying about getting out of it and when I went back to Wellington, I’d managed to complete only two of my projects and had to request an extension of time for another.

“I also had to see my GP because of stress, and get some sleeping pills because I hadn’t been sleeping well,” she said.

General Manager for District Courts Tony Fisher claimed that the Ministry did not receive evidence that Ms Webb was now living in Wellington.

 

Your Rights Around Jury Service

Application to Registrar:

You can appeal to the Registrar on the grounds that jury service would interfere with your studies. You may need to provide evidence such as a copy of your exam timetable or a letter from the University.

Other reasons you may be excused include family commitments, health concerns, disability, or bereavement.

Appeal to judge from the Registrar’s decision:

If the Registrar refuses your application, you can make an oral submission to the judge or ask the Registrar to make a written submission to the judge.

Application to the judge directly:

Even if you didn’t apply to the Registrar, you can explain directly to the judge any reasons why you feel you should not have to complete service.

If you do end up serving on a jury, you have a right to:

• Be warned if jury service will last more than one week.
• Be reimbursed for costs associated with your service.

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