Deaf News: Mock trial to examine if Deaf people can serve on jury in Australia

Posted on July 9, 2014

The Guardian has reported that a mock trial will be held in Sydney, Australia, to see whether deaf people can perform jury service.

This is not only an issue in Australia. In 2010, Cathy Heffernan wrote a comment piece for the Guardian about how the UK and Ireland should include deaf jurors, just like America and Canada do.


A mock trial will be held in Sydney next week to investigate whether deaf people can be a part of a jury, amid claims that objections are “based on assumptions rather than evidence”.

In May, a Queensland judge ruled a deaf woman could not sit on a jury with an Auslan interpreter in a criminal case in the district or supreme court as it introduced a “13th juror”.

Next week’s project, led by the University of NSW, aims to test this premise.

Sandra Hale, professor of interpreting and translation at the University of NSW, said there was no evidence on the impact an interpreter had on the sanctity of deliberations.

“Interpreters abide by a professional code of ethics that requires strict confidentiality regarding any job they undertake,” she said in a statement.

“We’re trying to find out what impact having a deaf juror in the deliberation room and the trial will have on the rest of the participants,” Hale told Guardian Australia.

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