The Composition and Role of the Jury

The Composition and Role of the Jury

Length: 942 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Composition and Role of the Jury

The jury has been a feature in criminal trials in England for hundreds
of years. It is a civic duty that consists of 12 people aged 18 to 70
who are chosen at random from the electoral register (Before 1972
property qualifications were required in order to be eligible for the
jury). Mentally Disordered or any person with a recent or serious
conviction is disqualified from jury service along with anyone who has
ever been sentenced for 5 years imprisonment or more and anyone who
has completed a shorter sentence within the last ten years or
community service within the last 5. Also anyone who has any
connection with the victim, the defendant or any of the witnesses is
unable to serve. If jurors don't attend they may face a possibility of
punishment for contempt of court. Jurors can be granted excusal from
jury service but only in exceptional cases for reasons such as ill
health, examinations or specific domestic or business problems.

Once the jury have been selected and sworn the jury's role is to act
as judge of fact. In cases the jury must use their experiences of
human nature and usually they must use experience of life rather than
any legal knowledge to decide a verdict.

In 1974 Lord Salmon estimated that about 2% of cases brought before
the jury are wrongly acquitted and about 5% of the convictions in
Birmingham were considered "doubtful" and even though there is always
a risk of convicting an innocent this figure is considered
unacceptably high. Appeals against convictions solely on evidence are
very rarely successful. About one third of the jury's acquittals were
questionable and were said to be mainly down to feeling sympathy for
the defendant or a general mistrust of the police evidence.

However although only 2% of cases brought before the jury are wrongly
acquitted people still stand divided on how beneficial and fair the
jury system is, and although the jury has been around for a long time,
is it now time to replace it with an alternative?

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Composition and Role of the Jury." 15 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Jury and Its Role in the Courts of Trial Essay

- The jury plays a crucial role in the courts of trial. They are an integral part in the Australian justice system. The jury system brings ordinary people into the courts everyday to judge whether a case is guilty or innocent. The role of the jury varies, depending on the different cases. In Australia, the court is ran by an adversary system. In this system “..individual litigants play a central part, initiating court action and largely determining the issues in dispute” (Ellis 2013, p. 133). In this essay I will be discussing the role of the jury system and how some believe the jury is one of the most important institutions in ensuring that Australia has an effective legal system, while other...   [tags: jury systems, proceedings and judgements]

Research Papers
1507 words (4.3 pages)

A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell Essay

- Women have often dealt with the double standard when it came down to the difference between men and women. In fact, women only gained their right to vote in Canada in 1929; excluding the province of Quebec. Men are usually seen to be the superior sex, and also the leaders of significant matters. However, women on the other hand tend to be followers, or the lesser version of a man. “A Jury of Her Peers” written by Susan Glaspell is a short story that deals with this moral issue. Mrs. Hale and Mrs....   [tags: A Jury of Her Peers Essays]

Research Papers
890 words (2.5 pages)

A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell Essay example

- In Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”, female characters face inequality in a society dominated by the opinions of their husbands. The women struggle to decide where their loyalty rests and the fate of a fellow woman. Aided by memories and their own lifestyles the women realize their ties to a woman held for murder, Minnie Foster Wright. Through a sympathetic connection these women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have greater loyalty to a fellow woman than to their husbands and even the law; this greater loyalty ultimately shows the inequality between genders....   [tags: A Jury of Her Peers Essays]

Research Papers
937 words (2.7 pages)

The Jury System Essay example

- The right to trial by jury in the modern times originates from twelfth century England during the reign of King Henry II. This system may originate from an “ancient right for an accused to be tried only “by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land”” (Thomas). In the United States, trial by jury is mentioned in Article Three of the Constitution and the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. For many people, the jury system seems to be the fairest system and most unbiased way of determining a person’s innocence or guilt....   [tags: Trial by Jury ]

Research Papers
1395 words (4 pages)

The Role of the Jury in a Crown Court Essay

- The Role of the Jury in a Crown Court For all court appearances, jurors are selected randomly, by an official at the crown court from the electoral registers. In order to be selected for a jury the person must be: between the ages of 18-70; have lived in the country for at least 5years and be registered as a parliamentary elector. In 2003 a new act was passed, The Criminal Justice Act, this meant that everybody was eligible to be called for jury service. This new act does not excuse anyone in the legal profession, justice system or the health system....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers Essay

- A Jury of Peers In  A Jury of Peers  by Susan Glaspell, the story revolves around the sudden death of John Wright. There are five characters that participate in the investigation of this tragedy. Their job is to find a clue to the motive that will link Mrs. Wright, the primary suspect, to the murder. Ironically, the ladies, whose duties did not include solving the mystery, were the ones who found the clue to the motive. Even more ironic, Mrs. Hale, whose presence is solely in favor of keeping the sheriff s wife company, could be contributed the most to her secret discovery....   [tags: Jury Her Peers]

Free Essays
991 words (2.8 pages)

The Selection and Role of a Jury in a Criminal Trial Essay

- The Selection and Role of a Jury in a Criminal Trial This assignment focuses on how a jury is selected and its role in a criminal trial. The advantages and disadvantages of using a jury to decide the outcome of a criminal case will also be considered. A Jury is chosen at random, by a computer using names on the electoral roll. The jury is made up of 12 people from all walks of life who have no legal qualifications, jurors play a vital part in the legal system....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
525 words (1.5 pages)

Breaking the Bonds of Oppression in Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers

- Breaking the Bonds of Oppression in A Jury of Her Peers                Susan Glaspell’s "A Jury of Her Peers" is a view into the lives of farmer’s wives in the Midwest at the turn of the century. These women live in a male dominated world, where the men consider them incompetent and frivolous. The only identity they have is that associated with their husbands. They stay at the farmhouse to complete their repetitive and exhausting chores. The wives have little or no contact with the other people because of the distances between farms....   [tags: Jury Her Peers]

Research Papers
1338 words (3.8 pages)

Intuition in A Jury of Her Peers Essay

- Intuition in A Jury of Her Peers        Though men and women are now recognized as generally equal in talent and intelligence, when Susan Glaspell wrote "A Jury of Her Peers" in 1917, it was not so. In this turn-of-the-century, rural midwestern setting, women were often barely educated and possessed virtually no political or economic power. And, being the "weaker sex," there was not much they could do about it. Relegated to home and hearth, women found themselves at the mercy of the more powerful men in their lives....   [tags: A Jury of Her Peers Essays]

Research Papers
1185 words (3.4 pages)

Jury Nullification Essay

- Jury Nullification Jury nullification means that a jury finds a defendant innocent because the law itself is unjust, or is unjust in a particular application, and so should not be applied. So really what this means is that no mater what the law says the jury will pretty much have the right to choose weather the person is going to be guilty or innocent and that is kind of ok in some cases but then again its not in others so we should not expect our juries to judge our laws only the case that person is being tried in and they should only judge that person on all of the facts given....   [tags: Jury Jurors Court Justice System Essays]

Free Essays
3967 words (11.3 pages)

When being chosen to serve for the jury there is no kind of
intelligence test to be taken and there is no training or experience.
Many people would argue that this is the point of the jury and because
they have no experience they also have no previous bias so it's
considered fairer. Lord Devlin said juries are "the lamp that shows
that freedom lives", though at the same time criticisms of the justice
provided by the jury trial have been made. Some people think that the
jury is to eager to acquit and so many people charged of serious
crimes get away with nothing but a small fine. In a case in 1992 'D's
son was killed by 'T' who was sent to prison for 12 months which 'D'
felt wasn't enough. When he was released 'D' went to T's home and
fired at him with a sawn of shotgun causing injuries to his back and
arm. 'D' was charged with attempted murder and malicious wounding with
intent, but the jury at Maidstone Crown Court acquitted him and some
members later congratulated him on what he had done. This just shows
one of the problems with the jury and there are many more. Some jurors
maybe unable to cope with the difficult medical, financial or
technical evidence especially in complex fraud cases. One of the main
criticism of juries in civil cases is that when awarding damages they
were unpredictable because they weren't sure how much or how little to
award, so unlike a judge who could just look back at similar cases and
decide from there juries couldn't. The amount that a party maybe
awarded in jury cases could vary widely so it was difficult for a
lawyer to tell there clients what damages they might have won. This
was assessed in 1975 when the Faulks Committee expressed doubts as to
whether juries should be able to assess damages. In the case of
Aldington v Watts and Tolstoy (1989) the jury awarded damages of £1.5
million. This case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights,
which ruled the amount awarded so disproportionate that it amounted to
an infringement of Tolstoy's right to freedom of expression of the
European Convention on human Rights. Because of cases like these, the
appeal courts were given the power to alter the amount of money made
by the jury. Then in 1996 the Defamation Act extended the role of the
judges by making them able to set levels of compensation where the
defendant has offered to make amends.

Still even with all the juries problems some people still believe it
should be kept. It is belied that the jury system brings the good
sense and judgement of ordinary people into the legal system and its
said to be a feature of any domestic society. It's also though to be
fairer to have 12 people judging you rather than just than just one
judge, as judges are seen to side with the prosecution viewpoint.

There are other ways to tri defendants without a jury. Such as a judge
alone, a panel of judges, or judges and lay assessors together.

In a trial by a judge alone the judge must act as both a judge of law
and fact. However one argument against this is that judges may become
'case hardened' (cynical about the need to assume the defendant as
innocent until proven guilty because they hear a great number of
similar cases. Its also said that a judge is unable to have the same
understanding and experience as a jury as there are 12 people from
different backgrounds instead of just one judge. Though on the other
hand unlike juries, judges have been trained to evaluate cases as
lawyers and therefore don't have as much trouble in complex fraud

The benefits of a panel of judges are that its considered fairer as
with more than one judge present because the judges would be more
skilled in analysis so the trial would be cheaper than a jury trial.
However disadvantages with this method is that most judges come from
the same background so would not represent the range of experience
that the jury have and trying to find suitable judges may cause the
price to be more expensive than if it was to be with just one judge.

One advantage of using judges and lay assessors is that there would be
considerably shorter trials than with a judge and jury. Though the
magistrates used would only come from mostly middle class and upper
class backgrounds so don't also bring the different perspectives that
a jury would.

In Conclusion it seems as though while the jury is a fair way to reach
a verdict as it brings experience and view points from many different
people. However it does have its problems, more bad points than good.
It's obvious that not everyone is happy with the jury. Coloured people
believe that there are not enough black or Asian people on the jury
and that it's unfair to be tried by all whites, as to be tried by a
jury is to be tried by your peers and they expect there peers to be
the same as them. If the jury system was to be abolished what ever is
to replace it will end up with many the same criticisms, as the jury
is experiencing now. So even though the jury has quite a lot of
acquittals, nothings perfect and its better to have wrong acquittals
than wrong convictions.
Return to