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.

        There are several advantages of the system of trial by jury. Firstly, the general public acceptance of the way the jury system works.  As I have already stated, the jury system has been around for many years, almost 800 years now; the fact that the jury has stood the test of time has given society a feeling of acceptance that this is the best way to decide on the outcome of indictable offences.

        Secondly, the jury system gives the public a chance to participate in the legal process. Selection for jury service is basically a lottery. If the three conditions required for jury service are met; the persons name appears on the electoral register; they are aged between 18 and 70; and have lived in the U.K for at least 5 years since their 13th birthday, then there is every chance that any person could be selected for jury service. Most members of the public find this an exciting insight into the legal system; however some people find the experience extremely costly as it means that they cannot work while the trial is in progress.

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        A third advantage is that the jurors are totally impartial and the decision is made purely on opinion. Obviously this opinion must be heard in a majority vote of at least 10 out of 11 or 9 out of 10 jurors. The jurors vary rarely know much about the legal procedure and are therefore not case-hardened as Judges would be should they be introduced, as in alternative suggestions to the jury system.

        Fourthly, the public of England and abroad have great confidence that the cases have been tried fairly and that the system is effective. With the public having great ...

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