Jury Service

Information, advice and tips regarding your jury service

Advantages Of Jury Trials

  • Provides certainty, no retrial (subject to recent reforms but only for serious crimes).
  • Retrial available in tainted cases (nobbling) Section 54 Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996.
  • Section 51 Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 creates offence to intimidate or threaten to harm a juror.
  • Prosecution and defence “challenges” correct the problems caused by random selection.
  • 95% of cases dealt with by magistrates, so not a great cost as a percentage spent of the CJ system.
  • Public acceptability of jury decisions.
  • Perverse verdicts enjoy public respect.
  • Avoiding unjust law or precedents without breaking them.
  • Perverse jury verdicts can provide a “criminal equity”.
  • Involvement of lay people. Trial by peers.
  • Juries include many ethnic minorities as a percentage of the whole population (11.5% are non-white, British – 2001 census), which is wrongly thought to be higher.
  • Independent of the executive and the judiciary.
  • With 12 people any bias is likely to be cancelled out
  • Common sense; judge strength of witnesses’ evidence themselves.
  • Apply common values, e.g. what is “dishonest”
  • Majority verdicts allow justice when there is a ‘rogue’ juror.
  • Many judges believe jurors usually return the right verdict, very few appeals from jury verdicts.
  • High correlation in USA studies of jury/judge verdicts.
  • Judge can correct any unfairness of the array.
  • Provide a barometer of public opinion.
  • Ordinary honest citizens applying local knowledge and values.
  • Reputed to do their best according to the law.
  • Civic duty a rare opportunity for citizenship
  • Efficient system, with 800 years of success.
  • Character and honesty can be judged by ordinary persons, it does not require legal skills.
  • Public confidence.
  • Defendants can elect jury trial.
  • Juries do understand the burden of proof, and lower it in paedophile cases and child murders.

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