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DeafHear disapppointed with Law Reform Commission Report on Jury Service

DeafHear disappointed with Law Reform Commission Report on Jury Service

Report represents a step backwards from Commission’s Consultation Paper,
says DeafHear.

DeafHear press release
30th May 2013

DeafHear is disappointed with the recommendations of the Report of the Law Reform Commission on Jury Service. The Report considered the inclusion of Deaf and blind people on juries. In relation to Deaf people who are sign language users, the Report recommends a ‘dedicated research project’ should be undertaken to examine among other things the codes of conduct and standards of Irish Sign Language interpreters and the potential for the presence of a 13th person in the jury room (i.e. an ISL interpreter) to have an impact on the fairness of a trial.

In effect, the recommendations delay the time when Deaf people will be able to serve on juries, despite the stated desire of the Commission in the Report to widen the pool of jurors to make juries more representative.

The Commission’s Consultation Paper issued in 2010 had, among other things, considered the administration of justice in other jurisdictions where Deaf people acted as jurors and stated that the presence of an interpreter in the jury room would not interfere with a jury’s deliberations. Since the Consultation Paper was published, a number of Deaf people had been called for jury service. In 2010, Mr Justice Paul Carney ruled in the Central Criminal Court that a Deaf person could serve on a jury with the provision of an ISL interpreter. (However, in this case the individual did not serve on the jury as the defence counsel objected to him being empanelled).

DeafHear’s Chief Executive, Mr Niall Keane said “We are very disappointed with the Commission’s Report. We believe that the evidence from other countries demonstrates that the participation of Deaf people on juries does not compromise the administration of justice in any way, but the exclusion of Deaf people continues to cast a shadow over the citizenship rights and status of Deaf people in Ireland.”

DeafHear is now calling on the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to support the principle of involving Deaf people more fully in the justice system and to initiate a research project along the lines of the Commission’s Report, to pave the way for Deaf citizens to have the right and responsibility to serve on juries within our justice system. This research could constitute an action of Government which would also advance the recognition of Irish Sign Language, a commitment contained in the Programme for Government.






more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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