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Jury System Part 2

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How effective is the system of trial by jury? Are there any improvements that could be made or better alternatives that exist? 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. Much comment has been made about the jury system and its effectiveness and value to society. In this essay I will attempt to explore the advantages and disadvantages, before finishing this essay with an evaluative passage to sum up my findings. ...read more.


A further example was R v Kronlid and Others (1996)- In this case Kronlid and others caused �1.5 million worth of damage to a fighter aircraft that was to be sold to the Indonesian Government. Kronlid successfully argued that the plane would be used to tyrannize the people of East Timor and was acquitted by the jury. All of the above are reasons as to why the jury system is advantageous. I will now explore disadvantages of the system. Firstly, as the selection for jury service (governed by section 1 of the Juries Act 1974 as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988) is totally down to chance, there is the realistic possibility that incompetent people, who are unable to deal with the court atmosphere, may be selected for jury service. This occurred in R v Chapman (1974) when a deaf juror sat through the trial without hearing a word of the trial. The Court of Appeal also decided that the juror had not prejudiced the trial and therefore the decision stood. After this case, Lord Denning caused for a suitability test to be introduced to decide on whether the juror is adequate to perform, however this could result in huge financial cost. Secondly retrials are very expensive. The jury do not have to agree, and should they disagree, a retrial would have to be arranged. ...read more.


Here are four suggested alternatives and their accompanying disadvantages: * Single Judge- this alternative means that there would be only one viewpoint towards the outcome; also, a judge sees the trial only in a legal context. * Panel of Judges- These would be hugely expensive, way too much to be able to be realistically paid. Also, the judges would act purely with a professional view. * Judge and lay jurors- this would be problematic, as the judge would dominate the discussion. * 'Professional' Jurors- this would also be problematic, as the jury would become casehardened and would no longer be laymen. These suggestions are all possible alternatives and could be implemented. However, it has to be said that if an alternative to the jury system were to be introduced, it would have been already. The jury system has served society well over the past 800 years. The public have confidence in the system and accept that it is the best way to decide indictable only offences. Any alternative that could be introduced would be done under mass political pressure and would be widely opposed. Despite some flaws in the system, there is no alternative that is as advantageous with fewer disadvantages. Unless a revolutionary new idea is fathomed at some point in the future, the jury system will continue to so serve the public well. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Written By: George Mundell - Jones 11UMA ...read more.

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