29 Jul 2008

Supreme Court to hear jury-vetting case urgently

4:31 pm on 29 July 2008

A legal issue that could affect every criminal jury trial in New Zealand will be heard urgently by the Supreme Court.

The court has been asked to decide if police are allowed to supply jury lists to the Crown that have already been vetted for potential jurors' suitability.

The legality of jury vetting arose at a Christchurch drugs trial, during which the defendants challenged the Crown's ability to choose jurors from a pool of people police had already checked for suitability.

The Supreme Court has decided it will hear the case, which had gone through the High Court and Court of Appeal, on the basis that it was a practice that potentially affected every jury trial.

In a ruling granting the appeal, the Supreme Court justices said the legality of the vetting was a matter of public importance and needed to be dealt with promptly.

No date has yet been set for the hearing.