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Jury (Criminal & Civil Trials)

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Jury Essay (a) Describe the role of Jury in Civil and Criminal trials. Juries have been used in our legal system for over 1000 years since the Magna Carta which recognized the right to trail by "the lawful judgment of his peers." Since 1215 juries became the usual method of trying criminal cases. The independence of the jury was recognized in Bushell's case (1670) when it was established that the judge could not challenge the decision made. A more modern day example demonstrating that judges must respect the independence of the Jury is R v McKenna (1960) where they threatened the jury that if they don't give their verdict within another 10 minutes they will be locked up for the whole night. Juries are used in both Criminal and Civil cases although the use of juries is very small. Juries are used in the Crown Court for criminal trials of indictment, High Court - Queen's Bench Division, County Court and in some cases the Coroners' Courts. Less than 1% of criminal cases are decided on by a jury this is because 97% of cases are dealt by the Magistrates' Court and from the cases that go to the Crown Court, about two out of three defendants plead Guilty. Juries are used in both criminal and civil cases and the law concerning juries is consolidated in the Juries Act 1974. ...read more.


At the end of the jury charge, the case is in the hands of the jury and the jury leaves the courtroom to the jury room to deliberate. The jury chooses a foreperson, reviews the evidence and reaches a verdict in accordance with the instructions of the judge. If the jury requires further instruction or clarification of some point, it may contact the judge, who takes appropriate action. Once the jury has withdrawn to consider its verdict, members of the jury may not communicate with anyone outside of the jury room except jury ushers and then only for the purpose of contacting the judge. In a criminal trial, the verdict in a case can only be reached by the complete or unanimous agreement of the 12 jurors. Their duty is finished and the judge will discharge them when the foreperson announces the jury's verdict in open court. The most common use of juries today is in the Crown Court, where they decide a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Cases heard in the Crown Court are most often serious criminal cases including murder and rape; however, jury trials account for less than 1% of criminal trials because most cases are dealt with in the Magistrates' Court. In a typical trial, the jurors will hear the case presented by both the defence and prosecution, and then a summing-up and some direction on the law from the judge. ...read more.


The first is to decide if the claimant has sufficiently proved their case, and then if they decide that the claimant has won their case, they will judge and decide the amount of damages that should be paid by the defendant. When a jury is used in the High Court, there will be twelve people sitting, but in the County Court a jury will consist of eight people. It is stated in the County Courts Act 1984 that a person may only have the right to have a jury trial in the following types of civil cases; defamation, false imprisonment, fraud, and malicious prosecution (4). These cases are all based around both character and reputation, and a judge may still refuse a jury trial in these cases if it involves complex documents or scientific evidence, as is it considered to be unsuitable for jury trial. It was effectively the decision made during Ward Vs James (1966) that stopped the use of juries in personal injury claims, when a plaintiff attempted to claim for injuries caused in a road accident. The court has now stated that an example of where a jury might be appropriate in a personal injury claim would be if injuries had resulted from somebody deliberately misusing their authority, meaning that there could potentially be a claim for exemplary damages. In conclusion I think now a days the jury system is often described as the 'jewel in the crown' or the 'corner-stone' of the British criminal justice system. ?? ?? ?? ?? - 1 - ...read more.

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This is a generally accurate description of the role of juries. It could be improved by covering material in sequence - selection followed by trial and then consideration of verdicts. Some evaluative material is included which is not strictly necessary for the question set.
Rating: ****

Marked by teacher Nick Price 06/06/2013

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