Wednesday 17 January 2018

Prosecutors warned to oppose the appointment of deaf jurors

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

STATE prosecutors have been told to oppose the appointment of profoundly deaf people as jurors if it means more than 12 people will be present during jury deliberations.

Last month a deaf man made legal history after he was granted permission to serve on a jury with the help of an interpreter.

Senan Dunne, a former producer with RTE's 'Hands On' programme for deaf viewers, was the first deaf person in the history of the State to be granted permission to serve on a jury.

During a routine jury selection process, Central Criminal Court judge Mr Justice Paul Carney said that objections to having a 13th person could be met by the signer taking an oath of confidentiality.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which supports in principle the inclusion of hearing impaired persons as jurors, has highlighted concerns about the confidentiality of deliberations.

The office recently issued a circular to its prosecutors drawing attention to a binding precedent by a High Court judge which, the DPP says, states that there can't be a 13th person in a jury room for deliberations.

The circular, which obliges prosecutors to highlight the ruling in future jury selection procedures, could result in deaf jurors being rejected.

The High Court ruled that there was no absolute ban on deaf persons serving on juries but said that it was up to judges, not county registrars, to decide who was eligible to serve.

Irish Independent

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