Sign language is used in court as deaf jurors with their own interpreters are used for first time in England
- Changes to law allowed interpreters to be present in jury deliberation room
- This was the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act passed earlier this year
- Ministry of Justice disclosed two trials have already had deaf people take part
Deaf jurors needing a sign language interpreter have served in trials for the first time.
It comes after changes to the law allowed interpreters to be present in the jury deliberation room to carry out their work.
The Ministry of Justice disclosed yesterday that two trials have already had deaf people take part.
In the first, a juror known only as Karen deliberated in a racially aggravated harassment case at Croydon Crown Court, south London.
The Ministry of Justice disclosed yesterday that two trials have already had deaf people take part. In the first, a juror known only as Karen deliberated in a racially aggravated harassment case at Croydon Crown Court (pictured), south London
She was also chosen by the other jurors to act as the jury foreman, who is responsible for announcing the verdict.
Karen said it had been an ‘excellent and amazing opportunity’, adding that it ‘went smoothly and exceeded my expectations’.
Another deaf juror named Paul served on a serious sexual assault case at Norwich Crown Court.
He said taking part had ‘been a dream of mine’ and he was ‘deeply touched’ by the efforts court staff made to accommodate his needs. British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters rotated every 20 minutes to assist them.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, passed earlier this year, allowed BSL interpreters into the jury deliberation room. Interpreters had to take an oath swearing not to influence, interfere with or disclose the jury’s deliberations.
Justice minister Gareth Johnson said: ‘We are breaking down the barriers for deaf people carrying out jury service, ensuring they can fully and equally participate.
‘I am delighted the door is now open to thousands more potential jurors as we establish a more accessible and inclusive justice system for all.’
Deaf people who do not require an interpreter have been able to serve on juries previously.
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