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Description of the jury system

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Introduction

Describe the system of trial by jury within the English legal system The jury system has been in use for hundreds of years and was confirmed under Magna Carta 1215, however the system of trial by jury can be traced back to the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). The system by which we are familiar with today, i.e. juries giving verdicts on the basis of what is related to them by witnesses at the court hearing was coming into prominence in trials of serious offences as early as the fifteenth century. The jury is found in the Crown Court and sit for indictable offences. Juries consist of 12 people of either sex, swearing on the Bible or equivalent religious text, swear to: "Well and truly try the case and give a true verdict according to the evidence". The law on juries is governed by the Juries Act 1974, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Qualification for jury service is attainable if a person meets the following criteria: i. Their name appears on the electoral register; i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Ultimately the jury's job is to decide on whether the defendant is guilty or not based on the facts presented to them from the prosecution and the defence. Prior to 1967 the verdict had to be unanimous. However, as quite often all 12 jury members failed to agree, retrials were required- these were (and still are) very expensive and, during the time between trials, jurors could be pressurised or bribed. In 1967 majority verdicts were introduced under the Criminal Justice Act. Majority verdicts apply in two situations. 1) After the jury has retired to the jury room for at least 2 hours and, 2) not less than 10 out of 11 or 12 jurors or 9 out of 10 jurors have agreed on the verdict. Any other majority and the jury are 'hung' and a retrial may be ordered as an only alternative to dropping charges. Prior to a trial in the Crown Court, a panel of jurors (usually 15 or 16) are summoned to attend court, a duty which is an offence should they not attend. From the 15 or 16 jurors, 12 are chosen using a ballot in open court. ...read more.

Conclusion

Very rarely, juries are used in civil cases, though under the Supreme Court Act 1981 any civil court has the discretion to use a jury provided one of the parties applies. Civil juries are occasionally used in cases of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and malicious falsehood. However, they are used in cases of defamation. In these cases, the jurors have to decide if a person was defamed and they also have to decide on the amount of damages to be awarded. This often causes great problems as the juries award obscene amounts of damages such as in the Jeffery Archer Case when the author was awarded an astonishing �500,000 damages. The system of trial by jury has been successfully used in society for hundreds of years. Anything that has remained in such constant use over such a long period of time must be deemed to be worthwhile keeping. Although various alternatives have been suggested to the jury system, no one has been able to fathom a superior way to decide on the defendant's fate. It has to be said that the system of trial by jury is used to the advantage of the public and, until any other superior alternative is introduced, it will continue to be an asset to society. ?? ?? ?? ?? GCSE Law/ Jury (a) Nabeel Nawaz ...read more.

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