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  • Jurors are lay, so no formal qualifications are needed.
  • Juries Act 1974 states that the jurors must be :
  • aged between 18 and 70
  • Registered to vote
  • Resident in the UK for at least five years since their 13th birthday.

Some people can be disqualified:

  • Those who are imprisoned for life
  • Those imprisoned for public protection

Some are banned for ten years

  • At any time in the last ten years convicted of an offence
  • Mentally disordered persons cannot serve on a jury
  • Prosecution and defence counsel can ask a juror to stand down
  • A judge can dismiss a juror for lack of capacity to "act effectively as a juror"
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  • Blind and deaf jurors cannot serve
  • Doctors and paramedics can no longer be excused (CJA2003)
  • Members of the armed forces can be excused
  • Can also defer for certain circumstances: Holiday, business appointment etc.
  • If a person isn't excused and fails to attend= £1000 fine
  • Lawyers, judges and police can sit as a juror (Unless there is a risk of bias)
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  • One official for one crown court who must summon enough people to hear the cases in each two week period
  • Names are selected at random from the electoral register through computer selection at a central office
  • More than 12 will be summoned.
  • Those that have been summoned will receive a letter of jury summons.
  • They must reply within 7 days.
  • If deferred the person must tell the court when they can complete jury service.
  • The Jury Central Summoning Bureau is responsible for deferrals and excusals.
  • Not completing jury service when summoned is a criminal offence
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  • Both counsels have a right to see the list of potential jurors
  • Can carry out routine police checks and wider background checks.
  • Can only be used in exceptional cirumstances and with the Attorney General's permission.

Selection at court

  • 12/15 will be picked
  • "Praying the talesman". Pick jurors from the street. Very rarely used.
  • Before the jurors are sworn in, the prosecution and defence can challenge them:
  • To the array: The jury has been selected in a unrepresentative manner
  • For cause: Challenges the individual right of a juror to sit. RvWilson
  • Prosecution right to stand by the jurors: Send a juror to the bottom of the list of potential jurors
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Split function

  • Jury is only used at the Crown Court where the defendant pleads not guilty.
  • 20,000 cases per year at the Crown Court.
  • Juries decide the facts, not the law.
  • Judge can direct the jury to acquit the defendant half way through if he thinks that the prosecution's case is poor.
  • The judge will sum up the case.
  • The jurors retire to a private room and must aim to reach a unanimous decision.
  • The judge must accept the jury's decision (Bushell's Case 1670)

Majority verdicts

  • Introduced to stop jury nobbling
  • After two hours the judge can tell the jury that he can accept a majority verdict.
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  • 11-1,10-2,9-0
  • They've been allowed since 1967.
  • 20% of convictions are by majority verdict.


  • s8 Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes disclosure of any event in the jury room a criminal offence.
  • No inquiry into how the jurors reached their decisions.
  • Bought in because newspapers were buying jurors' stories.

Other courts

  • Coroner's Court (Prison,industrial accident, police custody, public H&S)
  • Civil cases (s69 Supreme Court Act 1981 for High Court Cases, and County Court's Act 1984.
  • Defamation, fraud, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment.
  • Judge can still refuse a jury for the above cases
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  • Public confidence. Represents a democratic society
  • Being tried by one's peers creates liberty.
  • Tradition is old and people have faith.
  • Juries aren't bound by precedent/ acts of parliament etc., and can make decisions according to their own conscience.
  • Open system of justice. Members of the public are involved.
  • Jurors aren't legal experts- keeps the law simpler
  • Less appeals- reasons for the juror's decisions are unknown
  • Jurors are free from pressure- can bring in verdicts unpopular with the public
  • This makes people more willing to serve
  • Juries are impartial.
  • Process of selection should create a cross representation of society
  • Cancel out each other's bias
  • Not case hardened
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  • Perverse decisions which cannot be justified. R v Kronlid: The defendants damaged a plane to prevent being used in a war.
  • Secrecy means that it is unclear whether or not the jurors understood the evidence.
  • R v Mirza: The HoL decided it could not look into events in a jury room. But could look into events that occured outside the jury room R v Young 1995: The jury tried to hold a seance to find out who the killer was.
  • Bias: Can still have prejudices which affect the verdict. E.g. Might be racist (Sander v UK)
  • Media coverage might influence jurors, especially in high profile cases. R v West
  • Lack of understanding: Jurors aren't legally qualified and that they may not understand the case that they are trying.
  • Research showed that over half of jurors thought that the jury as a whole hadn't understood the evidence.
  • Fraud trials are very complex and the CJA2003 means that the prosecution can apply for trial by judge only.
  • Jurors may rush their decisions to leave early
  • "Nobbling"
  • High acquittal rate (60%)
  • Can have a psychological effect on the jury, if the evidence is nasty (Rosemary West)
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