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Who is and who isn't eligible for jury service within the English legal system. And how is a jury selected. How effective is trial by jury? Consider any alternatives and suggest improvements.

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Who is and who isn't eligible for jury service within the English legal system. And how is a jury selected. How effective is trial by jury? Consider any alternatives and suggest improvements. For many years "the jury" have decided cases in the Crown Court. When a defendant pleads not guilty a jury is sworn in to hear the case and come to a verdict. Now people are considering whether trial by jury is a fair and just way of reaching the verdict. In the Crown Court, when a defendant pleads not guilty, a jury is sworn in to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not. Juries are used in less than one per cent of all criminal trials. This essay will examine who is and isn't eligible for jury service within the English legal system and other things related to it. A jury is a group of twelve men and woman legally chosen to hear a case and decide facts from the evidence presented in the case. Juries are used in both certain civil and criminal courts. Certain qualifications are needed to be eligible for jury service; the person must be aged between eighteen and seventy years. They must be registered to vote on the electoral register and also must have been a resident in the United Kingdom for at least five years since reaching the age of thirteen. Certain people can also be disqualified from jury service due to The Juries Act 1974 and The Juries Disqualification's Act 1984. ...read more.


Another reason why juries are popular is that they do not have to agree with the judge. Even if the judge tells the jury that the defendant has no defence they can acquit the accused, something similar happened in R. v. Mckeena. In this case the jury was pressurised by the judge, the defendants conviction was quashed on appeal because the judge at the trial threatened the jury that if they did not return with a verdict within ten another minutes they would be locked up for the night. A jury can refuse to operate a law which they feel is unjust, this happened in a case of Clive Ponting (1985), he admitted his guilt but he did the crime for the good of the country. A jury may not come up with a legally correct verdict every time but a just one. Lord Devlin once said that the jury is "the lamp that shows that freedom lives" due to cases like Ponting. There is also public confidence in the use of juries. There are also many disadvantages of having a trial by jury. Although jury selection, in theory, is a random selection process, often certain groups of people are not fully represented, these include younger people and people of ethnic minorities. The Runciman Commission (1993) on the criminal justice system, proposed that in some cases, if random selection did not provide a multi-racial jury, then the jury should be deliberately chosen to make the jury a cross-section of society. ...read more.


It would be very expensive. Another alternative could be to use a judge and two lay assessors, it would eliminate the slowness and cost of using a jury as well as keeping in public involvement. All three (two lay assessors and the judge), eliminating problems of lack of understanding could make the decision. The Judge would put in the legal input and the lay people would consider the facts. It would be quicker and cheaper compared to trial by jury, however, there would not be as larger cross section of society involved. The final alternative could be to have a judge and a mini-jury. This system would bring down the cost, by having less jurors, there could still be personal bias though. This technique is used in America in less serious cases. There are still disadvantages to all of these alternatives. In conclusion, the people that finally do the jury service are randomly chosen, however, the people in a jury do not often represent a fair cross section of the public. This could cause bias. Trial by jury should be a fair trial, but jurors can be a subject to bribes and they can be intimidated in some cases causing bias. The number of people/groups that do not have to do jury service could be seen as very large, the people that end up doing jury service are often middle class, middle aged and middle minded so to speak. The most viable alternative to trial by jury is having a Judge and two lay assessors as the public is still involved, its cheaper and faster. Law Coursework Carl Gelibter ...read more.

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