Timothy Wilson Comments: Victorian Juror charged with ‘Playing Detective’

ImageA juror has been charged with illegally playing detective during a criminal trial.

Mr Dieter Schmitz, 47, appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday accused of conducting research when a juror in a County Court trial on or about December 6, 2012, into a matter relevant to the trial without the authorisation of the trial judge. No details were given about the trial or the actions of mr Schmitz.

Under the Juries Act, a juror “must not make an enquiry for the purpose of obtaining information about a party to the trial or any matter relevant to the trial, except in the proper exercise of his or her functions as a juror”. This includes  conducting any research by any means such as using the internet to search an electronic database for information or consulting another person.

The maximum penalty for the charge, under the Juries Act 2000 (VIC), is a fine of 120 penalty units ($17,323.20)

In the current day and age the legal system struggles to combat and prevent jurors from doing acts such as this. Is media exposure and access to information and technology in the 21st century jeopardising the right a fair trial?

Read the full story here.

 

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Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk