Unit 1 Juries

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Eligibility

Section 1 of the Juries Act 1974 says people eligible are:

  • Between 18- 69 years old
  • Registered on the Electral Register
  • Ordinarily a resident in the UK for at least 5 years since their 13th birthday

The Juries Act 1974 also disqualifies some people:

  • Imprisonment for life, or for 5 years or more (permenant disqualification)
  • Any sentence in the last 5 years, on bail (temporary disqualification)

Some people are deemed ineligible to be a juror made by the Mental Health Act 1983:

  • Resident in a hospital or attending medical practitioner for treatment

Section 9 of the Juries Act 1974 states some people can be excused from jury service such as:

  • A physical disability like blindness
  • A member of the armed forces

Others may be able to get temporary deferral such as reasons like:

  • Surgery, pregnancy, exams or pre-booked holidays

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 has allowed judges, police officers and lawyers to be jurors

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Selection

Names selected from the Electral Register by the Central Jury Summoning Bureau (CJSB).

Summons are sent and those selected must notify the court only if they CAN'T commit. Those summonded are expected to attend for a minimum of 10 days for jury service.

Vetting (checking)

  • Police checks to see they are not disqualified
  • Wider background checks can see political party they support (cases on National Secrurity)

The court clerk selects 12 jurors from the 15 at random. The defence and Prosecution have the right to challenge the jury in two ways:

1. Challenge to the array (whole jury). If they are unrepresentative/ biased

  •  R v Fraser. D was ethnic minority but all of the jury were white

2. Challenge for cause (to one juror)

  • R v Wilson and R v Sprason. Wife of prison officer on jury. Appealled, convictions quashed

The court clerk will ask jurors to take an oath/ affirmation (to give D a fair try and base their verdict on evidence heard in court)

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Roles of a Jury

  • The jury of 12 hear triable either way and indictable offences (about 30,000 cases a year)
  • A jury is the only decided of the verdict which they can only base on evidence heard in court
  • Nobody else can influence their decision. Bushell's case- judge punished jury as didn't agree
  • Jury must listen to the judge's summing up at the end and follow any guidence on the law
  • Jury must listen to evidence from defence and prosecution. After the Prosecution's the judge can tell the Jury to acquit D if the evidence against them is insufficient (in 10% of cases) 
  • The jury must go to the jury room to consider the verdict in secret. The Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it a crime to share any of the information with someone outside the room (eg. media)
  • The foreman's role is to: control discussion and publically announce the verdict
  • If the verdict is majority the foreman must declare the split eg. 10 to 2. The Juries Act 1974 says this is to make sure they have reached a legal majority
  • The jury's main job is to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty
  • The judge tells them to reach a unanimous decision. However the CJA 1967 says that if after 2 hours they can't do so, the judge can choose to accept a mojority
  • If less than 10 agree they will be a hung jury and the judge will discharge them and D will have a retrail in front of a new jury eg. R v Jenkins
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Roles of a Jury

  • The foreman's role is to: control discussion and publically announce the verdict
  • If the verdict is majority the foreman must declare the split eg. 10 to 2. The Juries Act 1974 says this is to make sure they have reached a legal majority
  • The jury's main job is to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty
  • The judge tells them to reach a unanimous decision. However the CJA 1967 says that if after 2 hours they can't do so, the judge can choose to accept a mojority
  • If less than 10 agree they will be a hung jury and the judge will discharge them and D will have a retrail in front of a new jury eg. R v Jenkins
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Advantages of Juries

Jury equity

Juries can decide a verdict on what they believe is fair and just known as a conscience decision. Because they aren't legal experts they don't have to follow precedent or justify their reasons for their verdict (Bushell's case)

In R v Owen, D's son was killed by a reckless driver who was only given 18 months in prison. D tried to kill this man and despite the evidence vertually proving this, the jury acquitted him presumably because they believed it would be unfair to inprison him. 

Secrecy

Because only the jury are present in the jury room, they are free from pressure which allows them to have honest and open discussions as nobody else can influence their decisions. 

If discussions were made public, they might feel inhibited as to what they could say about the evidence and less people would be willing to be jurors. 

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Disadvantages of Juries

Secrecy

Because nobody is monitering the jury, it can't be known that they correctly interpreted the law and evidence. We also don't know what factors made them choose their decision.

In R v Young the jury created a ouiji board in a hotal room to ask the dead victim who killed them. They reached a guilty verdict but D appealed and had his conviction quashed due to how the verdict was reached.

Influence of Modern Technology

Information about cases and defendants is very easy to access on the internet. Not all of the information is reliable and may stop the jury giving D a fair trial. It also contradicts the oath that they swore upon.

Attorney General v Dallas. Jailed for 6 months after doing research on a defendant whose trial she was a juror for and found he had previously been changed (but not convicted) of **** and shared this information with the jury. 

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Exam Questions

1. Describe how jurors qualify and are selected for service in a Crown Court trial

2. Descrive the role of a jury in a Crown Court trial 

3. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of a jury in the Criminal Justice System

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