Exploring the Function of the Jury Essay

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Exploring the Function of the Jury

The jury has to weigh up the evidence and decide what are the true facts of the case, i.e. what actually happened. The judge directs them as to what is the relevant law, and the jury then have to apply the law to the facts that they have found and thereby reach a verdict.

Jury service is compulsory.


Home Office research in 1999 found that only 1 of 3 people summoned for jury service actually turned up to do it. Forty percent (40%) were excused for personal reasons - work, holidays, exams, medical etc. Many believe that potential jurors easily escape their duty for no valid reason, as the courts do not have the
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deafness, language problems, the judge can discharge the person under Section 41 Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994.

Media attention was drawn to this issue in 1999 when a deaf person, Mr. McWhinney was discharged. Mr. McWhinney wished to fulfill his role as a citizen by sitting on the jury with the help of a signer - but his appeal was not allowed, as the addition of the signer would make the jury 13 rather than 12 in number.

DISQUALIFIED ------------

Finally, no one with a serious criminal record is supposed to sit on a jury. Anyone who has had imposed on him a sentence of imprisonment, or youth custody or community or suspended sentence service within the previous 10 years is disqualified, as is anyone who has received a sentence of imprisonment or youth custody for 5 years or more. Also, anyone placed on probation within the previous 5 years is also disqualified.

A typical jury today is likely to be much younger, have a closer ratio of men to women and have more working-class members than one 10 years ago. Some lawyers take the view that the lower age limit should be 25 years.


Juries are also criticized on the basis that their level of comprehension of cases, and perhaps their level of intelligence, are too low. The Frauds Trial Committee, chaired by Lord Roskill,
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