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Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977)

Chapter 21 : Trial before Superior Court

145. Trial in superior court by judge sitting with or without assessors


(a) Except as provided in section 148, an accused arraigned before a superior court shall be tried by a judge of that court sitting with or without assessors in accordance with the provisions set out hereunder.
(b) An assessor for the purposes of this section means a person who, in the opinion of the judge who presides at a trial, has experience in the administration of justice or skill in any matter which may be considered at the trial.


(2) Where an attorney-general arraigns an accused before a superior court—
(a) for trial and the accused pleads not guilty; or
(b) for sentence, or for trial and the accused pleads guilty, and a plea of not guilty is entered at the direction of the presiding judge,

the presiding judge may summon not more than two assessors to assist him at the trial.

[Section 144(2) substituted by section 31 of Act No. 105 of 1997]


(3) No assessor shall hear any evidence unless he first takes an oath or, as the case may be, makes an affirmation, administered by the presiding judge, that he will, on the evidence placed before him, give a true verdict upon the issues to be tried.


(4) An assessor who takes an oath or makes an affirmation under subsection (3) shall be a member of the court: Provided that—
(a) subject to the provisions of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this proviso and of section 217(3)(b), the decision or finding of the majority of the members of the court upon any question of fact or upon the question referred to in the said paragraph (b) shall be the decision or finding of the court, except when the presiding judge sits with only one assessor, in which case the decision or finding of the judge shall, in the case of a difference of opinion, be the decision or finding of the court;
(b) if the presiding judge is of the opinion that it would be in the interests of the administration of justice that the assessor or the assessors assisting him do not take part in any decision upon the question whether evidence of any confession or other statement made by an accused is admissible as evidence against him, the judge alone shall decide upon such question, and he may for this purpose sit alone;
(c) the presiding judge alone shall decide upon any other question of law or upon any question whether any matter constitutes a question of law or a question of fact, and he may for this purpose sit alone.

[Section 144(4) substituted by section 4 of Act No. 64 of 1982]


(5) If an assessor is not in the full-time employment of the State, he shall be entitled to such compensation as the Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, may determine in respect of expenses incurred by him in connection with his attendance at the trial, and in respect of his services as assessor.