The Right to Jury Duty


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The Right to Jury Duty

Before 1972, those who owned their own home and were over a rateable
value were eligible for jury service. The Morris Committee in 1965,
estimated 78% of names on the electoral register didn't qualify for
jury service, 95% of women were also ineligible, either because they
lived in rented accommodation or were wives.

The committee recommended the right to do jury service should
correspond with the right to vote. That reform was brought in by the
Criminal Justice Act 1972 and can also be found in the Juries Act
1974.

To be eligible for jury service you must be aged between 18-70, you
must be registered on the electoral register and must have lived in
the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for at least five
years since the age of thirteen.

Some people will automatically be disqualified from jury service these
include; people who have been sentenced to prison or a young offenders
institute, someone who has received a community rehabilitation order.

There are also people who are ineligible for jury service, ineligible
is where people cannot do jury service for certain reasons for
example; people who suffer from mental illnesses, priests, monks and
nuns and people on bail.

M.P.S, people in the armed forces, doctors and nurses, and people over
the age of 65 may be excused as a right. This may be because they have
duties, which are considered to be more important to the public i.e.,
rather than being at jury service a doctor could be saving somebody 's
life.

Discretionary excusal is a process where the judge will excuse people
for certain reasons these may be that the juror will be away at the
time of the trial, the juror may have childcare problems and the juror
may have problems with the accused. The judge would usually defer the
juror rather than totally excuse the juror until the juror can
continue with jury service.

There is also a term called discharge, this is where there is doubt

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about a juror's ability to serve on the trial for example the juror
may have language problems or deafness. The judge will decide whether
to discharge the juror.

In section 41 of the Criminal Justice and the public order act 1994 it
states that the judge can discharge the juror, if the person in the
judges eyes is not capable of acting effectively as a juror because of
a physical disability.

Computers randomly produce a list of potential jurors; this is done
from the electoral register. Summonses are sent out to the potential
juror with a form to return stating that the person can or cannot
attend jury service stating approximate reasons. When they are
returned a jury panel is formed. Jury service is compulsory for those
not disqualified, ineligible or excused, those failing to attend on
the day of court or under the influence of drink or drugs, can lead to
contempt of court, resulting in a fine or a prison sentence.

There are twelve jury members in the English court, there must never
be less than nine, but in the country courts there are eight jurors.

Of course all jurors must be vetted (checked out) this is done using
police records, and the security service records. In one case;

R v SHEFFIELD CROWN COURT, EX PARTE BROWNLOW,

The defendants were police officers; the defence wanted the jury
vetted in case of previous offences/convictions. The prosecution did
oppose it, but the Crown Court judge ordered that vetting should take
place; the court of Appeal upheld the decision. Lords Deming and Shaw,
condemned vetting in security and terriost cases because it was not
stated in the Juries Act 1974 and they said that it was an invasion of
privacy.

The role of the jury is to decide whether or not the accused is guilty
or not guilty. The jury may take notes while in court, and are also
given documentary evidence or photographs. When it is time for the
jury to make a verdict, they are taken off to another room to discuss
the case and all of the evidence; the jury are not allowed to discuss
the case to anyone at all apart from the judge and other jurors. If a
juror does discuss the case with anyone else he will be held in
contempt of court and will face a fine or sentence.

For example; if the juror was talking to the defendant or giving him
lifts to the court, he would automatically be dismissed from jury
service.


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