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The jury system Chapter 12.

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Presentation on theme: "The jury system Chapter 12."— Presentation transcript:

1 The jury system Chapter 12

2 Key knowledge related to this chapter
• the role of juries, and factors that influence their composition • strengths and weaknesses of the jury system • reforms and alternatives to the jury system

3 Learning Objectives Explain the role of juries
Outline the factors that affect their composition Outline the process of jury selection and empanellment Evaluate the effectiveness of the jury

4 What is a jury? A jury is a random selection of people from the community- this provides parties with a trial by their peers

5 What is the role of the jury?
Listen to and weigh up the evidence and arguments put by each side, with an impartial and unbiased mind Listen to, and try to understand, the law as explained to them by the judge Decide the facts of the case and apply the facts to the law to see if the case has been proved to the standard of proof Reach a unanimous or majority verdict, and in most civil cases they decide the amount of damages

6 Test your understanding
Which of the following is the most accurate statement of the role of the jury?: The jury decides the sanctions or amount of damages if the defendant loses the trial The jury decides what the facts of the case are. The jury interprets the relevant law and decides which precedent to apply. The jury arrives at a verdict that creates precedent for future cases.

7 What factors influence the composition of the jury?
Juries Act (Vic) determines the stages and procedures to be followed when selecting and empanelling a jury It involves the random selection of jurors (to ensure fairness) and mechanisms to filter out potentially biased jurors

8 What is a jury pool? A jury pool are the people summoned for jury service who are available to be selected for individual cases by random ballot

9 How is a jury pool selected?
A questionnaire is sent to everyone enrolled to vote for the House of Representatives. If they have done something in the past that makes them inappropriate (e.g. being in jail for more than 3 years), they will be disqualified If their job is too closely connected to the legal system or if they cannot perform the task of a juror, they will be ineligible If they fit certain criteria for hardship or can make a valid request, they many be excused Anyone left will be liable for service and will receive a date to attend court. Failure to attend may result in a fine or imprisonment.

10 Test your understanding
Disqualified is when someone’s job is too closely connected with the justice system (e.g. judge, police officer), or they cannot adequately perform the task of juror (e.g. poor English skills). Ineligible is when someone has done something in the past that makes them inappropriate for jury duty. For example, they are an undischarged bankrupt, or have previously served more than three years in jail. Excused is when service would cause them unnecessary hardship (e.g. they are the sole carer for a young child), or they are entitled to be excused because they are over a certain age. Liable for service is where they have been selected for jury duty and are given the details of the trial they will be judging.

11 How is a jury empanelled?
Potential jurors may be sent to a courtroom that needs a jury The judge will give them information about the case such as key witnesses. Potential jurors can ask again to be excused. If they are not excused and their name is picked, they are empanelled on the jury unless one of the parties makes a challenge against them The parties may each make 6 peremptory challenges (criminal cases, or 3 for civil) – no reason given The parties may make unlimited challenges for cause – but the judge must accept the reason Continues until 12 (criminal) or 6 (civil) jurors are empanelled.

12 Evaluating the effectiveness of the jury
Strengths Weaknesses Encourages contemporary values in the courtroom Can be influenced by bias or prejudice or open to manipulation by barristers Encourages less legal jargon, easier for parties & public to understand May not understand complex evidence or legal arguments Regular people may experience & learn about the legal system May be influenced by the media, bring assumptions or inadmissible evidence Check on the power of the government so they protect the people Untrained and unqualified people making important decisions Using 12/6 peers spreads responsibility of decision-making No guarantee that jury will be true peers, esp if accused is in the minority Jurors represent cross-section of the community True cross-section not present due to excused, ineligible, disqualified etc Majority verdict in most cases, shows confidence in decision & efficient Lack of unanimous decision shows doubt, undermines standard of proof Deliberate in secret so are not subject to influence or bribery No reasons so no way of knowing whether it was fair and correct Verdicts may contradict the law or facts if it is the most fair decision Verdicts not subject to precedent, hard to appeal so shows lack of consistency & accountability

13 Test your understanding
The jury system is flawed because jury verdicts or calculations of damages do not form or follow precedent, so decisions may be unpredictable and inconsistent. Select the statement that best provides a logical response to this weakness: A. The flexibility that the jury has in relation to its verdict is enhanced by the fact that jurors will find out more evidence from the media than what will be presented to them in trial B. The flexibility that each jury has in relation to its verdict and calculation of damages means that juries can take into account the specific circumstances of the case and the changing values of the community C. The presence of the jury encourages lawyers and expert witnesses to use less legal jargon

14 Improvements and alternatives to the jury system
Future reforms include: Appoint a specialist foreperson such as a lawyer, ex-judge or expert in the field to advise the jury in complex cases Make the jury give written reasons for their decision, showing they understand the law and evidence Allow the jury to return a ‘not proven’ verdict that would delay the trial to gather more evidence Alternatives include: Replace the jury with a panel of judges Replace the lay-person jury with a professional jury of people trained by the state to be jurors. Have very complex cases heard by professionals in the field. For example, medical negligence cases heard by a panel of doctors.

15 HOMEWORK Due Friday Read and summarise Chapter 12 – the jury

16 Next lesson Practice SAC

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