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1. Advantages/Disadvantages of Juries
There is huge public confidence in Jury system. Way for ordinary people to
be involved in the justice system rather than justice simply being "imposed"
by a judge
Views of 12 individuals more likely to represent views of public than
one judge who is from privileged background 12 voices offer a balanced
view. Even if individual jurors are racist/homophobic etc views will be
balanced/cancelled out by rest of jury
Jurors are able to give a "moral verdict" and do what they think is right. Can refuse to
follow the law whereas a judge or magistrate must follow it. This is known as
jury equity. (e.g. acquitted Defendant charged with marijuana)
Research suggests juries work acquit innocent, convict guilty. Zander
Research Conclusion was that in vast majority of cases legal professionals agreed with
jury. Only in 24% cases was verdict "inexplicable". Ministry of Justice
concluded juries not racist in reaching conclusions.
Fact finding is a matter of common sense no need for legal training.
No real way of knowing whether juries work because of the Contempt of
Court Act which keeps secret what goes on in the jury room and because Juries do
not have to give reasons for their decisions.
Zander Research Conclusion was in 24% cases was verdict
"inexplicable". The Garrod research in 1990 suggested that 12 was too
large number for proper decision making, if the number is greater than 7
then one person will dominate.
The problem of one person dominating is of particular concern now that
judges, lawyers and policemen can now be on the jury. These people do
not have to declare their presence and there is a real danger they will appear to
know more and so take charge and dominate the jury.
The jury is randomly selected and compelled to do jury service so there is no
quality control and you may have incredibly stupid people or prejudice (e.g. had to
abandon case where Juror was playing Sudoku, RvYoung jury held séance,
RvMirza juror was racist)
Juries don't have to give reasons so may be deciding cases on totally wrong or
ridiculous grounds. Research by Ministry of Justice shows jurors often
look at material not shown to them in court by downloading material
from the internet at home (some trails abandoned because of this). Recent cases show
jurors discussing details of trail on Facebook.
Jury trial is hugely expensive (approx £10,000 a day) and many people think it should
be abolished for either way cases.
Concerns that juries can be intimidated by the Defendants and/or
witnesses into giving a false verdict (at one point Liverpool Crown Court had an
acquittal rate of 79%)
Fears that because jurors are not legally trained they may be too easily
swayed by good advocacy.
Jurors in complex cases may not understand the evidence. (Roskill