Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511
The trial of Phillip Walter Montgomery Strickland who is facing cannabis related charges has been adjourned to Friday due to the lack of a full jury.
The jury trial,
which is presided over by Justice Patrick Keane at the High Court in Avarua,
had already lost a day’s worth of proceedings due to filling only 10 of the 12
positions on Monday, and on Tuesday, it again failed to fill all the positions,
adding only one extra member.
thanked the jury members already selected for their patience, but said without all
12 positions filled, the trial was unable to go ahead.
He said many of
those called up for jury service were unfortunately not on the island, which
meant the available pool of jurors was significantly less than had been hoped.
Justice Keane discharged
all 10 members of the jury, and adjourned the matter to Friday, where a new
jury will be selected.
Ministry of Justice Secretary Tamatoa Jonassen said “this sort of thing rarely happens”.
“The Court must empanel 12 people to form a Jury and normally around 80
people are summoned to form a pool of people that the Jury can be selected
from,” Jonassen said.
“In this instance it was recognised that a large number of those that
were issued a summon were found to either be travelling overseas, were exempted
from Jury service, or had a conflict of interest with the defendant or
Jonassen said as a result, the Court had to defer the start of the Jury
trial until a Jury can be formed.
“A new set of Jury summons has been issued and a date set for Jury
empanelment,” he said.
“Other Court matters are being referred to the Honourable Judge during
this time until the Jury trial can commence.”
Strickland has pleaded not
guilty to charges of offering to supply cannabis and conspiring to sell