Jury deliberation

Whilst the jury needs to be reminded of the requirement that any verdict be unanimous, it is essential that there not be any pressure placed upon the jury to agree. References to the cost and/or inconvenience of a further trial will serve only to apply that pressure.

The period in which a jury deliberates is comfortably the most delicate part of the trial process.

Whilst the jury needs to be reminded of the requirement that any verdict be unanimous, it is essential that there not be any pressure placed upon the jury to agree. References to the cost and/or inconvenience of a further trial will serve only to apply that pressure.

This is why the terms of the Black direction, carefully crafted by the High Court, should be used upon the jury indicating any inability to agree. Whilst minor deviations from the standard direction do not necessarily cause a miscarriage of justice (R v Tangye (1997) 92 Crim R 545), many of the cases listed below demonstrate that a strict adherence is usually safest for all.

The court should, nonetheless, be loathe to discharge the jury too quickly, where there still may be some prospect of agreement (Barber v R; Zraika v R [2016] NSWCCA 125).

Black

Black v R [1993] HCA 71

“Before we leave this aspect of the case we should say that we see no reason why a direction should not be given to a jury if it appears that they are encountering difficulty in reaching a verdict. But that direction should state quite clearly that each juror has a duty to give a verdict according to the evidence. Likewise, it is proper to remind the jurors that they should listen to each other's views, weigh them objectively and that an individual juror can change his or her mind if honestly persuaded that his or her preliminary view is not well founded.

With these comments in mind we consider that, should the occasion arise, a trial judge should give a direction along the following lines:”