Court generic
Court generic

CQU law expert says jury trial suspension has domino impact

ANYONE due to head to the courthouse for jury duty can breathe a sigh of relaxation.

Those in charge of Queensland's court system have suspended jury trials across the state until further notice due to the coronavirus.

However, criminal trials that have already started before a jury in the Supreme and District Courts will continue until they are concluded.

Supreme Court Chief Justice the Honourable Catherine Holmes AC, and District Court Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien have made the decision as a precautionary measure.

Jurors with a summons to attend court should contact the number on their summons paperwork.

Other cases will proceed but the courts are considering further adjustments due to challenges posed by COVID-19.

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CQUniversity law lecturer Lance Rundle said dependant on how long this goes for, this will add delays for defendants having their matters, delay justice for victims because they are waiting longer for finality in trials, and the longer the delay in trials, there will be impact on witness memories.

"It could lead more people being held in custody awaiting for a trial, particularly those that end up being found not guilty," he said.

A key case of this involved Troy Allan Donovan who served two years in prison awaiting a trial for manslaughter, which was dismissed days before the trial was due to start.

Donovan ended up being sentenced to 12 months' jail for the assault occasioning bodily harm of his partner Bernandine Frances Clement, a sentence wholly served. The court heard had he been sentenced in 2016, he would have been given parole after three months.

Donovan, 41, had been travelling from Western Australia to Northern Territory with defacto partner Ms Clement, 38.

The pair were heading to Bundaberg when they stopped overnight at Bladensburg National Park, 17km southwest of Winton, on April 19, 2016.

"The jury trial delays also interrupts the organisation of witnesses, evidence and expert witnesses because of the delays," Mr Rundle said.