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Transcript of Jury System?
Trail by Jury has been in our jury system for over 1000 years. Originally the jurors were used as witnesses, rather than decision makers.
It was in the 15TH century, that jurors became decision makers.
Bushell’s Case (1670) – jurors refused to convict Quaker activists of unlawful assembly.
-The judge would not accept the ‘not guilty’ verdict
-Ordered the jurors to resume their deliberations without food or drink.
-When the jurors persisted in their refusal to convict, the court fined them and committed them to prison until the fines were paid.
This established that the jury were the sole arbiters of fact and the judge could not challenge their decision.
-Needed a property qualification to be a juror this meant being the owner or a tenant .
- Women and young people were less likely to own or rent property and were prevented from serving on a jury.
-Aged between 18 and 70 ✓
-Registered to vote
They must not be:
-A mentally disordered person, or Disqualified from jury service
-A term of imprisonment of 5 years or more or a term of detention of 5 years or more.
-Anyone who is currently on bail in criminal proceeding
-Deaf people due to the fact that a translator would be needed and a 13th person is not allowed in the Jurors room
+ Public confidence - the jury is considered as everyday people. The right to be tried by one’s peers
Lord Devlin said juries are ‘the lamp that shows that freedom lives’. People have confidence in the impartiality and fairness of jury trial.
+ Jury Equity – as juries are not legal experts, are not bound to follow the precedent of past cases or even Acts of Parliament, and do not have to give reasons for their verdict it is possible for them to decide cases on their idea of ‘fairness’. This is referred to as jury equity
+ Impartiality – a jury should be impartial as they are not connected to anyone in the case. The process of random selection should result in a cross-section of society and this should also lead to an impartial jury as they will have different prejudices.
Disadvantages of juries
Secrecy- no reasons have to be given for the verdict, so there is no way of knowing if the jury did understand the case and come to the decision for the right reasons.
Racial bias- although jurors have no direct interest in a case, and despite the fact that there are 12 of them, they may still have prejudices which can affect the verdict.
Lack of understanding- jurors may not understand the case which they are trying
High acquittal rates- juries are criticized because they acquit too many defendants.60% of those that plead not guilty at the Crown Court are acquitted.
Jury service can be a strain especially where jurors have to listen to horrific evidence. Jurors in the Rosemary West case were offered counseling after the trial to help them cope with the evidence they had had to see and hear.
The use of juries makes trials slow and expensive
Man was judged by fellow citizens
Solid discs meant innocent
Doughnut shape discs meant guilty
-Prior to April 2004 people in certain essential occupations such as doctors and pharmacists had a right to be excused from jury service
- The Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolished this category.
-Other people who had the right to excusal were lawyers, judges, police officers etc.
-They are no longer able to refuse to do jury service but they can apply for discretionary excusal.