Juror privacy to be tightened
Legislation that will enhance the privacy, safety and security of jurors was introduced to Parliament today.
Justice Minister Simon Power said the Juries Amendment Bill included a provision to remove the addresses of potential jurors from jury panel lists.
The move comes after convicted murderer George Baker wrote to a juror whose name he saw on a list while he was representing himself in a trial.
Currently, a jury list must contain the name, occupation, date of birth and full address of potential jurors.
Since 2008, self-represented defendants have been prohibited from keeping a copy of the jury list or taking notes, but they can inspect it under supervision.
In addition, where there is a real risk that an accused may intimidate jurors, the prosecutor can apply for a judge-alone trial.
Mr Power said those changes were made to protect the privacy of jurors, but the Baker incident highlighted the need to further restrict access to the information.
"Serving on a jury is an important civic duty and we must do everything we can to make it as safe and easy as possible," he said.
The proposed changes in the bill will:
* remove the addresses of potential jurors from jury lists;
* allow the prosecution, defence lawyer, or the court-appointed adviser to defendants representing themselves to have automatic access to all address information on request;
* prevent the accused from ever seeing potential jurors' addresses by prohibiting the defence lawyer or court-appointed adviser from showing the addresses to the accused;
* extend the section of the Juries Act which makes it clear that misconduct in relation to jury lists may be treated as contempt of court to include the act of showing the accused, or any other person, jurors' addresses; and
* bar people from serving on a jury if they have, in the previous five years, been sentenced to home detention for three months or more. This puts them in the same category as those sentenced to a short term of imprisonment.