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To what extent does random selection of jury members create bias and would jury selection provide a solution?

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Introduction

To what extent does random selection of jury members create bias and would jury selection provide a solution? The theory behind the UK system of random selection is based on many assumptions. Firstly that randomness produces a representative sample of the population, which will provide verdicts, representative of the general public. It is assumed that if one juror has an apparent prejudice, then those in other jurors will counter it and so bias does not occur in this system1. Another assumption is that having "12 good men and true"2 randomly selected into the jury "strengthens the legitimacy of the legal system."3 However, it is clear that randomness does not provide representativeness and not all jurors are good and true. By implication a random sample can be all white, all black, all Asian, all young, all Liberals or all members of the BNP4 and so not representative of the population. Penny Darbyshire wrote an article in 19915 stating that instead of being representative, the jury was actually "an anti-democratic, irrational and haphazard legislator, whose erratic and secret decisions run counter to the rule of law"6 and by overlooking the law in an attempt to gain justice, innocent people may end up being convicted. ...read more.

Middle

Studies conducted on the electoral register have shown it to be unrepresentative of all ethnic minorities. The Home Office, in 1999, found that 8% of people eligible to be jurors were not on the elector register. 24% of black people were also not on the electoral register and 15% of those from an Indian sub-continent were also not on there. 24% of other ethnic minority groups were also not on the electoral register.11 Therefore many juries are picked with either small amounts or no jurors from ethnic minorities in them, which may sometimes bring about a bias. Judges are also not allowed to manipulate juries by trying to move selection areas to gain a more ethnic mix and so in cases where ethnicity may be an issue the judge cannot interfere as apparently this would not be fair and would tamper with the basic ethics of random selection. In R v Ford (1989) 12, the trial judge refused to grant a racially mixed jury and the Court of Appeal sustained this view on the grounds that "Fairness is achieved by the principle of random selection"13 and that to ask for a racially mixed jury would infer that some jurors are unable to be unbiased. ...read more.

Conclusion

The selection of jury members could rectify these faults by manipulating who should and shouldn't be in the jury according to their attributes, which may produce a more desirable outcome, but this would be at the cost of being truly representative of the whole population. 1 White, R. C. A., The English Legal System in Action - The Administration of Justice, 3rd Edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). 2 Slapper, G. and Kelly, D., The English Legal System, 7th Edition, (London: Cavendish, 2004). 3 Id. 4 Id. 5 Darbyshire, P., Criminal Law Review (1991, Crim LR 740) as cited by Slapper, G. and Kelly, D., The English Legal System, 7th Edition, (London: Cavendish, 2004). 6 Id. 7 Supra at note 2. The defendant was charged under the Official Secrets Act 1991 and although the judge ruled that there was no valid defence the jury refused to convict him. 8 http://www.hayesfield.co.uk/law/Revision/Juries.doc 9 Lord Denning, What's Next in Law? As cited by http://www.hayesfield.co.uk/law/Revision/Juries.doc 10 Supra at note 2. 11 Ingam, T., The English Legal Process, 10th Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) p.224. 12 Supra at note 2, p.1. 13 Id. 14 Id. 15 Spencer, J. R., Jackson's Machinery of Justice, 8th Edition, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 16 Id. ?? ?? ?? ?? Tanya Daley-Antoine 10084973 LSP1 1093 words 1 ...read more.

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5 star(s)

This is an extremely well written essay. Relevant points are supported by clear and convincing evidence.
However the case against jury selection has not been considered. Perhaps a comment about the US experience, where jury selection is commonly used, would have given a balanced discussion.
Rating: *****

Marked by teacher Nick Price 04/10/2013

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