2Key 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
3Learning Objectives Explain the role of juries Outline the factors that affect their compositionOutline the process of jury selection and empanellmentEvaluate the effectiveness of the jury
4What is a jury?A jury is a random selection of people from the community- this provides parties with a trial by their peers
5What is the role of the jury? Listen to and weigh up the evidence and arguments put by each side, with an impartial and unbiased mindListen to, and try to understand, the law as explained to them by the judgeDecide the facts of the case and apply the facts to the law to see if the case has been proved to the standard of proofReach a unanimous or majority verdict, and in most civil cases they decide the amount of damages
6Test 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 trialThe 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.
7What factors influence the composition of the jury? Juries Act (Vic) determines the stages and procedures to be followed when selecting and empanelling a juryIt involves the random selection of jurors (to ensure fairness) and mechanisms to filter out potentially biased jurors
8What 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
9How 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 disqualifiedIf their job is too closely connected to the legal system or if they cannot perform the task of a juror, they will be ineligibleIf they fit certain criteria for hardship or can make a valid request, they many be excusedAnyone left will be liable for service and will receive a date to attend court. Failure to attend may result in a fine or imprisonment.
10Test 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.
11How is a jury empanelled? Potential jurors may be sent to a courtroom that needs a juryThe 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 themThe parties may each make 6 peremptory challenges (criminal cases, or 3 for civil) – no reason givenThe parties may make unlimited challenges for cause – but the judge must accept the reasonContinues until 12 (criminal) or 6 (civil) jurors are empanelled.
12Evaluating the effectiveness of the jury StrengthsWeaknessesEncourages contemporary values in the courtroomCan be influenced by bias or prejudice or open to manipulation by barristersEncourages less legal jargon, easier for parties & public to understandMay not understand complex evidence or legal argumentsRegular people may experience & learn about the legal systemMay be influenced by the media, bring assumptions or inadmissible evidenceCheck on the power of the government so they protect the peopleUntrained and unqualified people making important decisionsUsing 12/6 peers spreads responsibility of decision-makingNo guarantee that jury will be true peers, esp if accused is in the minorityJurors represent cross-section of the communityTrue cross-section not present due to excused, ineligible, disqualified etcMajority verdict in most cases, shows confidence in decision & efficientLack of unanimous decision shows doubt, undermines standard of proofDeliberate in secret so are not subject to influence or briberyNo reasons so no way of knowing whether it was fair and correctVerdicts may contradict the law or facts if it is the most fair decisionVerdicts not subject to precedent, hard to appeal so shows lack of consistency & accountability
13Test 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 trialB. 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 communityC. The presence of the jury encourages lawyers and expert witnesses to use less legal jargon
14Improvements 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 casesMake the jury give written reasons for their decision, showing they understand the law and evidenceAllow the jury to return a ‘not proven’ verdict that would delay the trial to gather more evidenceAlternatives include:Replace the jury with a panel of judgesReplace 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.
15HOMEWORKDue FridayRead and summarise Chapter 12 – the jury