What to expect when you get to court

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If you’re summoned for jury service, you must go to the court named in your letter. When you get there, go to the juror waiting room. There’ll be staff wearing name badges. They will help you.

A jury is made up of 12 people. However, more than 12 people are asked to go to the court. This way, we can make sure the jury ends up with a good variety of people from the community.

This means that, although you’ve been summoned, you might not be picked as a member of a jury. On the other hand, you may be picked to sit on more than 1 jury during the week.

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Pre-trial ballot

The first step when selecting a jury is the pre-trial ballot.

When you arrive at the court, you’ll be asked to sit in a waiting area with the other people who’ve been summoned for jury service.

You’ll be shown a video about being on a jury.

The court registrar will randomly draw the names of potential jurors from a ballot box. These people will go into a court room.

If your name wasn’t called, you might be:

  • asked to wait for a second pre-trial ballot later in the day
  • told you can go home or back to work. You’ll need to check if you need to come back to court the next day – call the jury answerphone number on your summons.

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Jury ballot

The next step when selecting a jury is the jury ballot.

If your name is called in the jury ballot, you’ll be asked to walk to the jury box.

Challenge

If a lawyer says ‘challenge’ before you get to the jury box and sit down, you won’t be on the jury for that trial.

A challenge is not a personal statement against you. It’s a standard part of the jury trial process.

Lawyers don’t need to give a reason for challenging jurors. A challenge is sometimes used to get a diverse group of people on a jury.

No challenge

If you’re not challenged, you can sit down in the jury box and wait to be sworn in, empanelled and told the charges.

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Swearing in, empanelling the jury and reading the charges

As a juror, you must promise to do your best to be fair and open-minded. You make this promise by swearing an oath to God or making a non-religious affirmation on your honour. The court staff will help you do this.

Then the jury is empanelled. This means the court says that the 12 people are officially the jury for the trial.

After this the trial starts. The registrar will read the charge or charges, and the lawyers will usually introduce themselves and the defendant.

If you know or recognise anyone taking part in the trial or related to the case, you must tell the court registrar or court attendant straight away, even if the trial has started.

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