Deaf Woman Gaye Lyons Loses in High Court: Can’t Become Juror

Gaye Lyons

A High Court verdict has disallowed a deaf Queensland woman, Gaye Lyons, to become the first juror with audibility defects in Australia.

The legal case was filed when Lyons was excluded from the jury panel of Ipswich court located in Brisbane’s west in 2012. The woman is able to lip read but required an Auslan interpreter for communication purposes. The Queensland government refused to provide her with an interpreter, which restricted her from becoming a jury member in the court. As a result, the 60-year-old filed a case against the discrimination done to her.

The deputy registrar defended the decision of not allowing a deaf person into the panel by saying that no extra person was allowed inside the jury room under the state’s Jury Act. He also added that the law did not allow swearing in an interpreter.

In addition, the government lawyers also raised their doubts regarding the accuracy of translations made by the interpreter if provided to Lyons.

The system’s victim filed her case in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal along with a higher appeal to the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Queensland Court of Appeal. Each time, the court upheld the conclusion of the registrar. The High Court dismissed the appeal made by the victim.

“The Deputy Registrar rightly concluded that Queensland law did not permit an Auslan interpreter to assist the appellant while the jury was kept together,” the judgement read. “It followed that the appellant was incapable of effectively performing the functions of a juror.”

In an argument in favor of Gaye Lyons in September, as mentioned by 9News, lawyer Kylie Nomchong SC told the High Court that there have been instances overseas where deaf jurors were assisted by real-time interpreters. She dismissed claims about the lack of the reliability of the interpretation by transcribers.

The Queensland woman worked for Deaf Australia and had retired.

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