Jury Selection Synoptic Question A2 Law

Essay answer to a WJEC past paper synoptic question on jury selection. Hope this helps!

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  • Created on: 07-01-12 21:35
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Molly is afraid that a jury may be prejudiced because she is black. Explain to
her how juries are selected and whether she will have any say to the selection
of jurors at her trial.
Juries have been used in court cases for a thousand years, originally as witnesses
providing evidence however now they are used are the sole arbiters of fact, basing
their unbiased verdict on the facts as they see them. The relevant law relating to juries is
the Juries Act 1974 as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
I would assure Molly that juries are randomly selected off the electoral register through a
computer selection at a central office by an official at each Crown Court. Once the 12
potential jurors have been selected by the official, both Molly and the prosecution have
the right to see the list with the names each jury member. Potential jurors on the
electoral register are required to be between the age of 1870, they must have lived
within the UK for the past 5 years since the age of 13 and be neither mentally ill nor
disqualified. Disqualified meaning they have imprisonment for life or have had
imprisonment sentence imposed on them for 5 years or more. I would inform Molly that
checking the jury's suitability, known as jury vetting, through police and wider
background checks may be a suggestion. The jury sitting in on Molly's case may only be
vetted with the AttorneyGeneral's express permission. The decision to disqualify any
pool of potential jurors hasn't always been an option, as seen in the case of R v Crown
Court at Sheffield, ex parte Brownlow 1980. In this case it was decided by the judge
that vetting the jury was `unconstitutional' and `a serious invasion of privacy' and not
sanctioned by the Juries Act 1974. However, the case of R v Mason 1980
contradicted the previous judge's dismissal and it was decided that it was acceptable
for police checks to be carried out for jury suitability as it was an offence to serve as a
juror when owning a criminal record, therefore the police were only carrying out their
duty preventing crime by disqualifying jurors through vetting. A wider check serves to
check the juror's background and political affiliations, to see whether any juror has
`extremist views'. Wider background checks were brought to light by the `ABC' trial in
After the jury enter the jury box, if Molly or the prosecution have the right to challenge
them under section 5 of the Juries Act 1974. Both prosecution and defence may
challenge to array, for cause or standby. If either believes the jury has been selected in
an unrepresentative or biased way, then they may continue to challenge the jury under
S.5 of JA1974. This challenge was successfully used in the Romford trial as the 9 out
of 12 jurors came from Romford in which 2 lived on the same street. It was a successful
challenge as they jury wasn't representative of the society as a whole. However, Molly
may not challenge the jury if they are not multiracial, this was held in the case of R v
Ford 1989. If Molly found that she personally knew a member of the jury, she then may
challenge them for cause. Only the prosecution may challenge one juror to stand by, they
do not need to give a reason for their decision.
In conclusion, juries are selected randomly from an electoral register, however Molly
may chose to challenge the jury within reason.

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