- 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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- 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)
- 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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- 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.
- 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
- High acquittal rate (60%)
- Can have a psychological effect on the jury, if the evidence is nasty (Rosemary West)
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