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Pros And Cons Of Trial By Jury

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In the Australian legal system, juries have been the subject of debate for many years. Should we have them for criminal trials or will justice be done better through trial by judge alone?

The responsibility of the jury in criminal and civil cases is to “determine questions of fact” and apply law as set out by the judge and then, with these facts and evidence, come up with a verdict.

Specifically, in a criminal trial, it is the role of the jury to determine a “guilty” or a “not guilty” verdict which is set in place by the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” meaning that even with the slightest indication of doubt, the defendant must be found not guilty. This standard places the burden of proof with the prosecution to ensure the judge or
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Impartiality is said to be achieved during the random selection process of the jury empanelment as well as through the courts ability to exclude a person on the basis of their awareness of a particular person involved in or a witness in the case.

The right to have a trial by jury has been made available in all states and territories in Australia for criminal offences. The availability of a jury can be determined by the offence that the accused is charged with. Applications can too be made in a number of states and territories across Australia for the accused to be tried by judge alone rather than obliged to a trial by jury.

However, a trial by jury becomes obligatory where the prosecution of a federal offence advances by way of indictment. This obligatory process is due to section 80 of the Commonwealth Constitution that assures trial by jury in such instances.

This being said, trials involving jury’s makeup an extremely small amount of court cases in Australia. Most cases of a criminal nature are heard Summarily in the Magistrates court before being given the opportunity to a trial by jury.

The steps involved in the selection of the jury involve; Computer generated random selection, determination of liability, summons, selection of a panel from jury pool and finally the selection of jury from the panel.

However, there have been cases where irregularities in the
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