Ethos Autumn 2022

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ETHOS . LAW SOCIETY OF THE ACT JOURNAL

The Palladium in the Pandemic Vunilagi v The Queen and the restriction of jury trials in the ACT

The right to be tried before a jury has been described as a proud right1 and as a ‘palladium of liberty’.2 But what happens when this hallowed right clashes with public health? Is it constitutional in these circumstances to authorise a court to dishonour that ‘birthright’ by ordering a judge-only trial against the wishes of the accused? This question was posed to the ACT Court of Appeal (‘the Court’) in Vunilagi v The Queen (‘Vunilagi’),3 in the context of a challenge against s 68BA of the Supreme Court Act 1933 (ACT) (‘s 68BA’).4 Law student Kevin Tanaya examines the case in depth.

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PHOTO BY DANIEL MORTON ON UNSPLASH