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Society and its Attraction to Jury Trial - Essay Example

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Society appears to have an attraction to jury trial which is emotional or sentimental rather than logical Introduction It was always an accepted fact that the much-idolised British institution of jury trial (‘12 good men and true’) was at the core of UK legal system, and thus was held in great presage right from the time of its initiation.1 Always commended as a strong sign of democracy within the realms of UK criminal laws, it symbolised the very essence of public assurance, essential for defining the ethical permissibility of the existent criminal system and continuing with support not only from the political and legal system, but also from the general civic populace…
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Download file to see previous pages Furthermore, the individual jurors, chosen randomly, often face a lot of pressure in the form of intricate and lengthy case proceedings, which are unjustified and often lead to negative impact on the case outcome. There have been issues as regards the jury expertise on objectivity of decisions taken, as some experts argued that jury trials tend to be more emotional or sentimental (hence biased) in nature, rather than being logical, thus, attracting more than the due share of media and society attention.2 In fact, Penny Darbyshire describes the jury system as “an anti-democratic, irrational, and haphazard legislator, whose erratic and secret decisions run counter to the rule of law.”3 Such problems as pointed by the critics are inherent within the UK jury trial system, leading to demands for bringing in radical reforms in the UK legal policies and for abolishment of this many centuries old celebrated institution of criminal justice. The role of the juries within the legal system translates to the simple fact that legally unqualified people (the layman) are given significance within the highly specialised profession of law, and their assistance taken to provide justice to the public. The chief function of the jury is to listen to the facts presented during the case proceedings and based on these facts produce a verdict (in terms of case resolution within criminal/ civil cases), of guilty or not guilty. This essay will examine the role of the jury and explore the advantages and disadvantages of the system to seek whether Roskill had rightfully claimed that jury trials do not deliver justice, as they are more sentimental and emotionally driven, instead of being logical in nature, and tend to attract more media and society attraction than necessary. Discussion The jury system in UK Jury system in UK has been in vogue for more than 1,000 years, and according to some reports even existed before the Norman Conquest.4 The jury system, thus, always played a significant part in balancing the British legal system. In the present legal scenario, jury independence is given a great deal of importance, where many feel that juries should not be meddled with or pressurised, while deciding a case. The position of the juries as the only arbiters in a case was evident in the famous Bulshell case of 1670, 5 and in the more recent R v Mc Kenna (1960).6 In both the cases, the independent roles of juries were highlighted, where they had acted separately from the judge, while taking a decision. While selecting a jury, an official at the Crown Court selects jurors randomly, from the official data system, and even though only a 12-member jury is needed for a case hearing, more members are generally selected, to provide for any absentee jury members.7 In England and Wales there are three forms of criminal offences, where ‘summary’ offences (ones considered as being of minimal seriousness) can be tried only at the Magistrates’ Court, with two to three magistrates in presence.8 Criminal offences that are more serious in nature and categorised as ‘ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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