Law reform could welcome specialist courts, end to jury in sexual harm trials – Lawyers Weekly

Victoria’s Law Reform Commission has posed a number of questions to the profession on whether the courts should be updated to better manage sexual harm offences.

The New Zealand law commission found there was some value in giving the decision-making function to a professional body rather than a jury and recommended including the model as part of the specialist sexual offences court in future.

The Victorian commission’s research revealed two areas of concern around jurors that sit on sexual offence trials. For one thing, often jurors will bring their own attitudes into the courtroom, including common misconceptions around sexual harm. Some studies suggested that jurors are more influenced by their own attitudes over the evidence.

“Another concern is that the presence of a jury may be harmful for complainants,” said the commission, adding: “It can be difficult to give evidence in front of a group of people and especially in small communities where complainants and jurors might cross paths. The need to persuade a jury may also lead to more intense questioning than needed.”

Source: Law reform could welcome specialist courts, end to jury in sexual harm trials – Lawyers Weekly

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