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Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

HOA decides on residency certificates for jury pool expansion

HOA decides on residency certificates for jury pool expansion

The government has decided persons who meet the new 10-year residency requirement for inclusion in jury panels must first have a residency certificate.
This was determined as legislators met to deliberate and pass the Jury Act recently.

The amended Jury Act was one of several legislative reforms committed to by the Government of National Unity, as part of its framework agreement between the United Kingdom and the BVI.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley revealed a recent press conference that while there were not many changes and amendments to the Jury Act, one specific change was to the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report’s recommendation that persons be added to the jury pool once they met a 10-year residence threshold. This was a measure proposed in the report to extend the jury pool which officials complained was restricted and fraught with challenges because of the small community and restrictions contained in the old legislation.

“As it pertains to the 10-year residency, we removed the provision that opened the jury to anyone who has just been here for 10 years, but won’t necessarily have a certificate of residence,” Dr Wheatley said. “We felt as though you needed something to really tie them, some sense that they were settled in the BVI, that they were committed to remaining in the BVI.”

According to the Premier, persons who possess certificates of residence essentially demonstrate that they are a part of the community and can be considered a peer of anybody on trial and can take on their civic obligation and become a part of the jury pool.

Premier Wheatley said the previous Jury Act was from 1914 and was in bad need of modernisation. He noted that it came across very clearly to the government that the size of the jury pool caused a challenge, especially when jurors were being sought for specific trials.

“You’d have persons who would be related to the people who are being charged, related to a policeman or related to an attorney etcetera, and that created great difficulties in getting a jury panel and we hope that we would have helped to assist that challenge with the amendments,” the Premier stated.

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