High Court — no discrimination in jury exclusion

A complaint by a deaf woman, who was summoned for jury duty but excluded from a jury panel, is the first complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) to go all the way to the High Court of Australia.

The woman, Ms Lyons, claimed she had been discriminated against because of her impairment and her reliance on an Auslan Interpreter.

The High Court held that by excluding the woman from a jury panel, the Deputy Registrar of the Court was simply applying the Jury Act 1995 (Qld). The Jury Act provides that a person is not eligible for jury service if they have a physical or mental disability that makes them incapable of effectively performing the functions of a juror.

Ms Lyons was not able to effectively perform the functions of a juror because Queensland law does not allow an Auslan interpreter to be part of the jury deliberations. The appeal was dismissed.

Lyons v State of Queensland [2016] HCA 38 (5 October 2016)

High Court of Australia decisions are available from the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) website.