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- The basic qualifications are set out in the Juries Act 1974 (as amended) as follows:
- aged between 18 and 70
- registered as a parliamentary or local government elector (on the ER)
- resident in UK for five years since the age of 13
- Jurors must sit unless disqualified or excused.
Disqualifications for life
- imprisonment or detention for life
- detention during Her Majesty's Pleasure
- a term of imprisonment or detention of five years or not
- A person will be disqualified from serving on a jury for ten years if they have received the following sentences in the last ten years:
- a custodial sentences of less than 5 years
- a suspended sentences
- had a community order or other community sentence passed on them
- A person will also be disqualified whilst on bail
- Attending jury service and failing to declare any of the above will result in a fine of up to £5000
- A person suffering from a 'mental disorder', as defined in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 cannot sit.
- Lacking capacity for example cannot speak English or suffering from a disability which results in the juror not being capable of acting effectively as a juror
- A person selected for jury service may ask to be excused. The following people may be excused:
- Full-time Armed Forces personnel if their commanding officer certifies that they are required for duty
- A person with 'good reason' can be excused or have service deferred.This is at the discretion of the court and reasons for this may be, for example examinations, business commitments and illness
- Simply ignoring the summons and not attending court may result in a fine of up to £1,000
Lawyers, Judges and police officers on juries
- The Criminal Justice Act 2003 changes who was and who was not eligible for jury service.
- The Act abolished the rule that people involved in the administration of justice were ineligible to serve on a jury.
- This included lawyers, judges and police officers.
- A Crown Court official will, at random from the electoral registers, summons enough jurors to try cases every fortnight. In the larger courts up to 150 summonses are sent out at one time.
- Summonses are sent out electronically using a computer at central office, notifying a person of when and where they are to attend.
- At court in the first instance, 15 potential jurors are chosen at random from the jury pool to go into the court room
- Twelve are then chosen at random in court by the clerk.
- Jurors are shown a short film when they arrive in court which explains to them the procedure in court and how to behave, including not discussing the case with any other person.
- Both the prosecution and defence have the right to see the list of potential jurors and may decide that the pool needs to be 'vetted'. There are two types of vettingL
- Routine police checks to eliminate those disqualified as approved in R V Mason (1980)
- Wider background check for political affiliations; however, this is rarely used and the Attorney-General's guidelines must be adhered to.
- Once the 12 jurors have been selected but before they are sworn in, both the prosecution and defence have the right to challenge one or more of the jury.
- There are three types of challenges, the first two are available to both the defence and the prosecution.
- The final one is only available to the prosecution.
The three types of challenges:
- Challenge to the array on way jury selected, for example, chosen in an unrepresentative or bias way. Used successfully against the 'Romford' jury where two of the jurors lived in the same street. However the challenge will not be allowed simply because the jury is not multi-racial -R v Ford 1989
- Challenge for cause - challenging a person's right to be on the jury because of connection with the case (R V Wilson 1996) and R V Sprason 1995 or incapacity
- Right to stand-by jurors (only available to the prosecution) allows a member of the jury to be put at the end of the list so that they will not be used unless there are not enough jurors
Criticisms of selection
- Electoral register does not include all the population as it excludes homeless people
- No power to ensure multi-racial juries
- Some disqualified jurors may sit and those given certain sentences are still eligible.
- Excusals were too many at one stage - now more difficult to get an excusable and this may lead to resentment.
Introduction to the role in criminal trials
- The role in criminal matters is split between the judge and the jury.
- The judge presides over the case and decides point of law.
- The jury's role is to decide the facts. If the judge decided that, in law, the prosecution's evidence has not made out a case against the defendant, s/he will direct the jury to acquit.
- The judge will pass the sentence at the end of the case.
Role in criminal trials
- A jury is only used in a small percentage whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty in serious cases
- They listen to the evidence from both the prosecution and the defence and at the end of the trial, listen to the summing up by the judge
- they decide questions of facts; the judge will advise them on questions of law
- At the end of the trial they retire to the jury room to discuss the case in scret and if possible come to a unanimous decision or, if directed by the judge, a majority decision of at least 10-2, if necessary.
- They do not have to give any reasons for their decisions
- The judge must accept the verdict of the jury
Introduction to role in Civil Cases
- Juries are rarely used in civil cases but can be used in both the County and the High court,
- They are mainly used in defamation cases.
- In the High Court, the jury will be made up of 12 members and in the County Court there will be eight members.
- In civil matters the jury has a dual role as they decide both the verdict and assess damages to be awarded.
Role in Civil cases
- Jury trial is only available only in four types of cases in the High Court or County Court:
- false imprisonment
- malicious prosecution
- Only retained for these cases because they deal with character or reputations
- A judge can refuse to allow a jury in these cases if they think the evidence is too complicated.
- In exceptional circumstances a personal injury case in the High Court can use a jury. But since the case of Ward v James (1996) no personal injury case has been deemed exceptional.
Using Juries in Civil Courts AO2
- There are particular problems of using juries in civil trials, for example:
- Civil juries decide both the verdict and the amount of damages. In terms of damages, juries do not use past precedent and therefore it is extremely difficult to predict the amount of damages that will be awarded, which cases difficulty for lawyers advising clients.
- If public figures are involved there may be bias
- Cost of using a jury makes the case much more expensive for the losing party
- Juries are used in the Coroner's Court to enquire into suspicious deaths, for example when death occurred while in custody or the cause of death is unknown.
- There will be between seven and eleven jurors used.
Advantages of using juries
- Public confidence - one of the fundamentals of a democratic society. As Lord Devlin said juries are 'The lamp that shows that freedom lives'.
- Jury equity - decide on fairness not just the law (Kronlid 1996), Ponting (1985)
- Open system of justice - Justice is seen to be done
- Lawyers have to explain matters simply (no technical jargon) thus allowing D and the public to follow proceedings
- Allows the ordinary person to take part in the administration of justice
- Secrecy of the jury room - allows the jury to be free of outside pressure.
Disadvantages of using juries
- Perverse decisions - can be protest against the law but is it up to a jury?
- Jury tampering by for example bribery and threats. This may lead to trial by judge alone - R V Tworney and others (2009)
- Racial bias as there is no right to a mutli-racial jury - Saunder v UK (2000)
- Media coverage may influence jurors - R v West (1996), R v Taylor and Taylor (1993)
- Lack of understanding - especially for fraud trials, which are extremely complex and the trial can last a very long time
- Secrecy of the jury room - it is unknown how they mae the decision and there may be questionable decisions which cannot be appealed - R v Mirza and R v Connor and Rollock (2004). However, this does not include suspicious practice outside the jury room - R v Young (Stephen) (1995)
Alternatives to juries
- trial by single judge
- a panel of judges
- a judge plus lay assessors