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Describe how the system of judicial precedent operates

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Describe how the system of judicial precedent operates Along with the principal of an independent judiciary, the notion of trial by ones peers is perhaps one of the most important aspects of our legal system. This is why any suggestions of moving away from this principle of trial by jury are always controversial. A jury is a body of 12 persons from a cross section of society sworn to heed testimony and evidence in Her Majesty's court; and make judgement based in the evidence presented to them: this is known as their verdict. The verdict of guilty or not guilty in precedent years has had to be reached by a unanimous verdict, however over recent years this prerequisite has been changed so that if a unanimous verdict is not reached after the given time the jury may reach a verdict by 11-1 or 10-2 majority, at the discretion of the judge. In most common law jurisdictions the jury is only responsible for the verdict; it is the judge who decides on chastisement. ...read more.


10-year period: any persons whom in the past 10-years had either a community sentence or order passed against them; in the past 10-years had a suspended sentence or served any sentence of imprisonment in the past 10 years. Anyone who is currently on bail in criminal proceedings is also disqualified. Moving away from disqualifications based on legal history is that of disabilities and state of mind, again any person whom relates to these disqualifications i.e. mentally ill or in some way disabled (blind) can also be disqualified. Another thing which may prohibit any person to take part in jury service is anyone whom is unable to verbalize fluent English as this could affect the outcome of the case. All those disqualified should be identified so that the Central Summoning Bureau can clearly see whom those people are on their records, however anyone who is chosen for jury service that is disqualified can be fined up to �5000 for failing to declare their disqualification. A process called vetting can be carried out to ensure they have no criminal record: in national security cases they may allow a wider background check. ...read more.


Once the jury has been chosen they are generally subjected to a system of examination. The defence and prosecution (plaintiff in civil cases) can object a juror. In most common countries this is known as voir dire. Any member may be challenged for example if they know the defendant or if they are disqualified. On rare occasions the whole jury is challenged due to them not being selected properly; a reason for this could be that they think it will be bias like R v Ford where it was a selected jury resulting in all jurors being of the same ethnic creed. When the court begins jurors are able to take notes throughout the trial. After all of the evidence is heard jurors go to a private room where they decide on their verdict the judge first asks for a unanimous verdict but may change to a majority verdict if one ; cannot be found this discussion must be kept between jurors; failure to do so could result in a fine or even a prison sentence as they have breached the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Once a decision has been made a foreman or forewoman announces a verdict to the court. ...read more.

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