The Law Society of Western Australia has thrown its weight behind proposed changes to the jury system in the state.
The Juries Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 is currently before WA Parliament, with planned changes including raising the jury cut-off age from 65 to 75 and tightening the rules that allow members of the community to be excused from jury service.
"The society has been concerned for some time that juries have been increasingly unrepresentative due to the exclusion of many occupations and 'as of right' excuses for health professionals, emergency workers and full-time carers," said WA Law Society president Hylton Quail. "The society has lobbied successive governments to remove these exemptions and is pleased to be able to support the Juries Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, debated in the Legislative Council."
In November last year, the Liberal - National Party government in WA announced its intention to overhaul the jury system.
Attorney-General Christian Porter, a trained lawyer who started his legal career with Clayton Utz before becoming a senior state prosecutor, said the proposed changes were as a result of 64 per cent of people being summoned for jury duty in 2009-10 being excused.
"It's almost impossible to get a good representation of the community if 64 per cent of people summoned are excused or exempt," he said.