Trial by Jury and Alternatives to It Essay examples

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Trial by Jury and Alternatives to It In order to decide whether or not trial by jury should or should not be abolished, we need to know what it is that we are dealing with and what viable alternative or alternatives there are to it.

I will take a brief look at the history of the jury trial. I will examine the function of the jury; look at what is good and bad about the jury system.

Finally I will examine the proposed alternatives to trial by jury that are currently in fashion.

The jury system first arrived in Britain after the Norman Conquest. The earliest jury was a
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The act of 1855 'for diminishing Expense and Delay in the Administration of Criminal Justice in certain cases' permitted certain cases of larceny to be tried by Magistrates, so long as he agreed. The Summary Jurisdiction Act 1879 listed for the first time those offences triable in the Magistrates courts. The act also set out for the first time a general right to claim trial by jury when the maximum sentence for an offence exceeded three months imprisonment. (From the above we can see that it is not just modern governments that have been interested in reform of the jury system)

Over the course of time the list of summary offences has grown and a new tier of offence, offences triable either way was created. (It is this area that the current government is grappling with at the moment) As these lists have grown the number of cases that are tried by a jury has fallen.

The crime figures published for 1998-99 show that there were 5,254,000 offences recorded by the Police. Of these 1,993,600 were tried, 1,879,000 at Magistrates courts and 114,600 at Crown Court. Just over 6% of cases were tried in Crown Court[2]. (So you might say that if so few cases end up at Crown court what is all the fuss about abolishing it.)

Moving on to the second topic, the function of a jury.

Here I propose to briefly outline its function, composition

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