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Jury System of UK - Essay Example

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The concept of trial by jury is basic to most legal systems that are based upon the English legal system. The idea that a person should be tried by "a jury of his peers" rather than by a King, Judge or some either biased authority is one of the founding stones of democracy…
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Jury System of UK
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Download file to see previous pages But considering the complexity of many trials today - especially with the advances made in forensic science and the complexity of many civil trials, severe doubts regarding the efficacy of the jury system have been made.
First of all, it is correct to consider whether a jury can in fact be "objective", especially when there has been a lot of pretrial publicity. Many studies have documented adverse effects of pre-trial publicity on juror decision making (Linz & Penrod, 1992; Otto, Penrod & Dexter, 1994; Ogloff & Vidmar, 1994; Studebaker & Penrod, 1997). These studies point out that jurors do not exist in a vacuum and are likely to have some opinion of a well-known case before they enter the courtroom.
In many ways this can be linked to the ideas of groupthink. Just as the jury may be influenced by what the public outside supposedly 'thinks' regarding a case - usually influenced by the media - so as a whole they may come to conclusions based upon a kind of consensus feeling rather than rational thought. This type of situation has been called "groupthink". Janis Irving has created a perhaps more sober definition in which she describes groupthink as "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action" (Irving, 1972). There are various interpretations and analyses of the practical results of groupthink that have occurred over the years.
In the original article in which the term groupthink was postulated, Whyte described group think in the following way:

We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity - it is, after all, a perennial failing of all mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity - an open, articulate philosophy which holds
that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.
(Whyte, 1952) (emphasis added)

One way of improving jury decisions, and thus making them more reliable, would be to actively educate juries on the dangers of groupthink before a trial starts. Just as their knowledge of the case, predisposition towards certain verdicts, experience of this type of crime/action are often tested through the process of voir-dire, so juries could be taught in a short workshop on the problems of groupthink and how to avoid them before the trial begins.
There are various interpretations and analyses of the practical results of groupthink that have occurred over the years. Some, such as McCauley (1987) have concentrated on some of the more ominous sides of the tendency in which individuals may be swayed into ways of behaving that they would not otherwise consider.
For example, extreme cases of groupthink can often be found within various religious cults, sometimes leading to disastrous and tragic consequences such as the mass suicides at Jonestown or of the Heaven's Gate group. These are thankfully rare examples of an extreme example of groupthink in which what may be a powerful good is turned into a destructive negativity because of the pathological nature of those who are leading the groupthink.
Other cases of groupthink have been found within organizations of some of the most intellectual and highly educated people (who would not be expected to be easy 'followers' as were the mostly uneducated ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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