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For "jury" meaning "coroner's jury," see inquest. For other uses, see jury .
An empty jury box in a US courtroom


A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to judge whether an accused person is innocent or guilty of a crime.

A person who is serving on a jury is a juror.

The old institution of Grand Juries, which are now rare, still exist in some places to investigate whether enough evidence of a crime exists to bring someone to trial.

The jury system has evolved out of the earliest juries, which were found in early medieval England. Members were supposed to inform themselves of crimes and then of the details of the crimes. Their function was therefore closer to that of a grand jury than that of a jury in a court.

Etymology

The word jur originates from the Latin jus (gen. juris), meaning "law". Juries are most common in common law adversarial-system jurisdictions. In the modern system, juries act as triers of fact, while judges act as triers of law. A trial without a jury (in which both questions of fact and questions of law are decided by a judge) is known as a bench trial.

Types of jury

The petit jury (or trial jury) hears the evidence in a trial as presented by both the plaintiff (petitioner) and the defendant (respondent). After hearing the evidence and often jury instructions from the judge, the group retires for deliberation, to consider a verdict. The majority required for a verdict varies. In some cases it must be unanimous, while in other jurisdictions it may be a majority or supermajority. A jury that is unable to come to a verdict is referred to as a hung jury. The size of the jury varies; in criminal cases there are usually 12 jurors, although Scotland uses 15. In civil cases many trials require only six.

A grand jury, a type of jury now confined almost exclusively to some jurisdictions in the United States, determines whether there is enough evidence for a criminal trial to go forward. Grand juries carry out this duty by examining evidence presented to them by a prosecutor and issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments. A grand jury is traditionally larger than and distinguishable from the petit jury used during a trial, with at least 12 jurors.

Composition of juries

Serving on a jury is normally compulsory for those individuals who are qualified for jury service. Since a jury is intended to be an impartial panel capable of reaching a verdict, there are often procedures and requirements, for instance, fluent understanding of the language, or the ability to test jurors or otherwise exclude jurors who might be perceived as less than neutral or more partial to hear one side or the other. Juries are initially chosen randomly from the eligible population residing in the court's jurisdictional area (unless a change of venue has occurred). Jury selection varies widely; in the United States, some form of organized questioning of the prospective jurors (jury pool) occurs—voir dire—before the jury is selected (impaneled).

A head juror is called the foreman or presiding juror. The foreman is often chosen before the trial begins or upon the beginning of deliberations. The role of the foreman is to ask questions on behalf of the jury, facilitate jury discussions, and sometimes to read the verdict of the jury. Since there is always the possibility of jurors not completing the trial for health or other reasons, often one or more alternate jurors are nominated. Alternates hear the trial but do not take part in deciding the verdict unless a juror is unable to deliberate.

Historical roots

The Jury an 1861 painting of a British jury


The modern jury evolved out of the ancient custom of many ancient Germanic tribes whereby a group of men of good character was used to investigate crimes and/or judge the accused. The same custom evolved into the vehmic court system in medieval Germany. In Anglo-Saxon England, juries investigated crimes. After the Norman Conquest, some parts of the country preserved juries as the means of investigating crimes. The use of ordinary members of the community to consider crimes was unusual in ancient cultures, but was nonetheless also found in ancient Greece.

The modern jury trial evolved out of this custom in the mid 12th century during the reign of Henry II. Juries, usually 6 or 12 men, were an "ancient institution" in some parts of England. ("Henry II" 286) Members consisted of representatives of the basic units of local government—hundreds (an administrative sub-division of the shire, embracing several vills) and villages. Called juries of presentment, these men testified under oath to crimes committed in their neighborhood and indicted. The Assize of Clarendon in 1166 caused these juries to be adopted systematically throughout the country. The jury in this period was "self-informing," meaning it heard very little evidence or testimony in court. Instead, jurors were recruited from the locality of the dispute and were expected to know the facts before coming to court. The source of juror knowledge could include first-hand knowledge, investigation, and less reliable sources such as rumor and hearsay.

Between 1166 and 1179 new procedures including a division of functions between the sheriff, the jury of local men, and the royal justices ushered in the era of the English Common Law. Sheriffs prepared cases for trial and found jurors with relevant knowledge and testimony. Jurors 'found' a verdict by witnessing as to fact, even assessing and apply information from their own and community memory—little was written at this time and what was: deeds, writs, were subject to fraud. Royal justices supervised trials, answered questions as to law and announced the court's decision which was subject to appeal. Sheriffs executed the decision. These procedures enabled Henry II to delegate authority without endowing his subordinates with too much power. ("Henry II" 293)

In 1215 the Roman Catholic Church removed its sanction from all forms of ordeal—procedures by which suspects were 'tested' as to guilt (e.g., the ordeal of hot metal was applied to a suspected thief by pouring molten metal into his hand, if the wound healed rapidly and well it was believed God found the suspect innocent, if not than guilty). With the ordeals banned establishing guilt would have been problematic had England not had forty years of judicial experience. Justices were accustomed to asking jurors of presentament about points of fact in assessing indictments; it was a short step to ask jurors if the accused was guilty as charged. ("Henry II" 358)

An early reference to a jury type group in England is in a decree issued by Aethelred at Wantage (997), which enacted that in every Hundred "the twelve leading thegns together with the reeve shall go out and swear on the relics which are given into their hands, that they will not accuse any innocent man nor shield a guilty one." The resulting Wantage Code code formally recognized legal customs that were part of the Danelawmarker.

The testimonial concept can also be traced to Normandy before 1066, when a jury of nobles was established to decide land disputes. In this manner, the Duke, being the largest land owner, could not act as a judge in his own case.

One of the earliest antecedents of modern jury systems are juries in ancient Greece, including the city-state of Athensmarker, where records of jury courts date back to 500 BCE. These voted by secret ballot and were eventually granted the power to annul unconstitutional laws, thus introducing judicial review. In modern systems, law is "self-contained" and "distinct from other coercive forces, and perceived as separate from the political life of the community," but "all these barriers are absent in the context of classical Athens. In practice and in conception the law and its administration are in some important respects indistinguishable from the life of the community in general."

18th Century England

In 1730, the British Parliament passed the Bill for Better Regulation of Juries. The Act stipulated that the a list of all those liable for jury service was to be posted in each parish and that jury panels would be selected by lot, also known as sortition, from these lists. Its aim was to prevent middle-class citizens from evading their responsibilities by bribing the under-sheriff whose job was to select jury members.

Prior to the Act, the main means of ensuring impartiality was by allowing legal challenges to the sheriff’s choices. The new provisions did not specifically aim at establishing impartiality had the effect of reinforcing the authority of the jury by guaranteeing impartiality at the point of selection.

The example of early 18th century England legal reform shows how civic lotteries can be used to organize the duties and responsibilities of the citizen body in relation to the state. It established the impartiality and neutrality of juries as well as reiterating the dual nature of the citizen-state relationship.

Trial jury size

About 50 prospective jurors awaiting jury selection


The size of the jury is to provide a "cross-section" of the public. In Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78 (1970), the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker ruled that a Floridamarker state jury of six was sufficient, and that "the 12-man panel is not a necessary ingredient of "trial by jury," and that respondent's refusal to impanel more than the six members provided for by Florida law did not violate petitioner's Sixth Amendment rights as applied to the States through the Fourteenth."

In Brownlee v The Queen (2001) 207 CLR 278, the High Court of Australiamarker unanimously held that a jury of 12 members was not an essential feature of "trial by jury" in section 80 of the Australian Constitution.

In Scotland, a jury in a criminal trial consists of 15 jurors, which is thought to be the largest in the world. In 2009 a review by the Scottish Government regarding the possibility of reduction, led to the decision to retain 15 jurors, with the Secretary for Justice stating that after extensive consultation, he had decided that Scotland had got it "uniquely right".

For juries to fulfill their role to analyze the facts of the case, there are strict rules about their use of information during the trial. Juries are often instructed to avoid learning about the case from any source other than the trial (such as from media accounts) and to not attempt to conduct their own investigations (such as independently visiting a crime scene). Parties, lawyers, and witnesses are not allowed to speak with a member of the jury. Doing these things may constitute reversible error. In very rare, high-profile cases, juries may be sequestered for the deliberation phase or for the entire trial.

Conversely, jurors are generally required to keep their deliberations in strict confidence during the trial and deliberations, and in some jurisdictions even after a verdict is rendered. In English law, the jury's deliberations must never be disclosed outside the jury, even years after the case; to repeat parts of the trial or verdict, is considered to be contempt of court, a criminal offence. In the United States, this rule usually does not apply, and sometimes jurors have made remarks that called into question whether a verdict was properly arrived at. In Australia, academics are permitted to scrutinize the jury process only after obtaining a certificate or approval from the Attorney-General.

Because of the desire to prevent undue influence on a jury, jury tampering (like witness tampering) is a serious crime, whether attempted through bribery, threat of violence, or other means. Jurors themselves can also be held liable if they deliberately compromise their impartiality.

Role

The role of the jury is often described as a finder of fact, while the judge is seen as having the sole responsibility of interpreting the appropriate law and instructing the jury accordingly. The jury will render a verdict on the defendant's guilt, or civil liability.

Occasionally, if jurors find the law to be invalid or unfair, they may acquit the defendant, regardless of the evidence that the defendant violated the law. This is commonly referred to as jury nullification. When there is no jury ("bench trial"), the judge makes rulings on both questions of law and of fact. In most continental European jurisdictions, the judges have more power in a trial and the role and powers of a jury are often restricted. Actual jury law and trial procedures differ between countries.

In the United States, juries are also entitled to make factual findings on particular aggravating circumstances which will be used to elevate the defendant's sentence, if the defendant is convicted. This practice was required in all death penalty cases in Blakely v. Washington, where the Supreme Courtmarker ruled that allowing judges to make such findings unilaterally violates the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. A similar Sixth-Amendment argument in Apprendi v. New Jersey expanded the requirement to all cases, holding that "any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt".

In Canada, juries are also allowed to make suggestions for sentencing periods and at the time of sentencing, the suggestions of the jury are presented before the judge by the Crown prosecutor(s) before the sentence is handed down.

However, this is not the practice in most other legal systems based on the English tradition, in which judges retain sole responsibility for deciding sentences according to law. The exception is the award of damages in English law libel cases, although a judge is now obliged to make a recommendation to the jury as to the appropriate amount.

Jury nullification

Jury nullification means making a law void by jury decision, in other words "the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her."

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were a series of cases starting in 1670 with the trial of the Quaker William Penn which asserted the (de facto) right of a jury to pass a verdict contrary to the facts or law. A good example is the case of one Carnegie of Finhaven who in 1728 accidentally killed the Scottish Earl of Strathmore. As the defendant had undoubtedly killed the Earl, the law (as it stood) required the jury to pass the verdict that the case had been "proven" and cause Carnegie of Finhaven to die for an accidental killing. Instead the jury asserted what it believed to be their "ancient right" to judge the whole case and not just the facts and brought in the verdict of "not guilty". This led to the development of the not proven verdict in Scots law.

Today in the United States, juries are instructed by the judge to follow his or her instructions concerning what is the "law", in his or her opinion, and to render a verdict solely on the evidence presented in court. If it reaches a conclusion contrary to those instructions, but based on its own beliefs as to what the law is, whether it has been properly applied, or whether it should be the law, this is known as jury nullification. It finds its most common expression when verdicts are rendered based on passion, prejudice, sympathy or bias. It has been asserted that the jury has the power to "nullify" a law it believes is unjust, by, for example, refusing to find the defendant guilty, in spite of the evidence, if it believes that a guilty verdict would be unjust. Important past exercises of this de facto power include cases involving slavery (see Fugitive Slave Act of 1850), freedom of the press (see John Peter Zenger), and freedom of religion (see William Penn).

In 1969 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appealmarker unanimously ruled: "If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the right to acquit, and the courts must abide that decision."The Fully Informed Jury Association is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to informing jurors of their rights and seeks laws to force judges to inform jurors that they can and should judge the law. In a still standing decision (Sparf v. United States, 1895) the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws.

Modern American jurisprudence is generally intolerant of the practice, and a juror can be removed from a case if the judge believes that the juror is aware of the power of nullification.

Jury equity

In the United Kingdom, a similar power exists, often called "jury equity". This enables a jury to reach a decision in direct contradiction with the law if they feel the law is unjust. This can create a persuasive precedent for future cases, or render prosecutors reluctant to bring a charge – thus a jury has the power to influence the law.

Perhaps the best example of modern-day jury equity in England and Wales was the acquittal of Clive Ponting, on a charge of revealing secret information, under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 in 1985. Mr Ponting's defence was that the revelation was in the public interest. The trial judge directed the jury that "the public interest is what the government of the day says it is" – effectively a direction to the jury to convict. Nevertheless, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Another example is the acquittal in 1989 of Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, who confessed in open court to charges of springing the Sovietmarker spy George Blake from Wormwood Scrubs Prisonmarker and smuggling him to East Germanymarker in 1966. Pottle successfully appealed to the jury to disregard the judge's instruction that they consider only whether the defendants were guilty in law, and assert a jury's ancient right to throw out a politically-motivated prosecution, in this case compounded by its cynical untimeliness.

In Scotland (with a separate legal system from that of England and Wales) although technically the "not guilty" verdict was originally a form of jury nullification, over time the interpretation has changed so that now the "not guilty" verdict has become the normal one when a jury is not persuaded of guilt and the "not proven" verdict is only used when the jury is not certain of innocence or guilt. It is absolutely central to Scottish and English law that there is a presumption of innocence. It is not a trivial distinction since any shift in the burden of proof is a significant change which undermines the safeguard for the citizen.

Non-trial juries

A wine jury
Besides petit juries for jury trials and grand juries for issuing indictments, juries are sometimes used in non-legal or quasi-legal contexts. Blue ribbon juries attend to civic matters as an ad-hoc body in the executive branch of a government. Outside government, a jury or panel of judges may make determinations in competition, such as at a wine tasting, art exhibition, or talent contest. These types of contests are juried competitions.

Blue ribbon juries are juries selected from prominent, well-educated citizens, sometimes to investigate a particular problem such as civic corruption. Blue ribbon juries cannot be used in real trials, which require constitutional safeguards to produce a jury of one's peers. The blue-ribbon jury is intended to overcome the problems of ordinary juries in interpreting complex technical or commercial questions. In the United States blue-ribbon juries were provided for by statutes, the terms varying by jurisdiction.

In the reality television show Survivor, after the tenth contestant is eliminated from the game, the remaining contestants, except for the two or three finalists, make up the "jury". They decide by voting who wins the game and the prize money.

Trial procedures

Australia

The Constitution of Australia provides in section 80 that 'the trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury'. It has been held accordingly that the Commonwealth can determine which offences are 'on indictment': Cheng v The Queen (2000) 203 CLR 248 (McHugh and Callinan JJ, Kirby J dissenting). This interpretation has been criticised a 'mockery' of the section, rendering it useless: R v Federal Court of Bankruptcy; Ex parte Lowenstein (1939) 59 CLR 556 (Dixon and Evatt JJ dissenting). It was held that a unanimous verdict was (historically) and is (in principle) an essential element of trial by jury: Cheatle v The Queen (1993) 177 CLR 541 (per curiam).

Belgium

The Belgian Constitution provides that all cases involving the most serious crimes be judged by juries. As a safeguard against libel cases, press crimes can also only be tried by jury. Racism is excluded from this safeguard.

Twelve jurors decide by majority whether the defendant is guilty or not. A tied vote results in 'not guilty'; a '7 guilty - 5 not guilty' vote is transferred to the 3 professional judges who can, by unanimity, reverse the majority to 'not guilty'. The sentence is delivered by a majority of the 12 jurors and the 3 professional judges.

Juries do not give reasons, which is a breach of article 6 ECHR (case of Taxquet v Belgium , 13-01-2009 [7333])

Brazil

The Constitution of Brazil provides that all cases of first-degree murder, abortion, infanticide and suicide instigation be judged by juries, but there are cases that are judged by judges even in cases of first degree murder. These are the only crimes judged by juries in Brazil. Seven jurors vote in secret to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not, and decisions are taken by majority.

Canada

In Canadamarker, juries are used for some criminal trials but not others. For summary conviction offences or offences found under section 553 of the Criminal Code of Canada the trial is before a judge alone. For most indictable offences, the accused person can elect to be tried by either a judge alone or a judge and jury. In the most serious offences, found in section 469 of the Criminal Code of Canada (such as murder or treason), a judge and a jury are always used, unless both the accused and the prosecutor agree that the trial should not be in front of a jury. The jury's verdict on the ultimate disposition of guilt or innocence must be unanimous, but can disagree on the evidentary route that leads to that disposition.

Juries do not make a recommendation as to the length of sentence, except for parole ineligibility for second-degree murder (but the judge is not bound by the jury's recommendation, and the jury is not required to make a recommendation).

Jury selection is in accordance with specific criteria. Prospective jurors may only be asked certain questions, selected for direct pertinence to impartiality or other relevant matters. Any other questions must be approved by the judge.

A jury in a criminal trial is initially composes of 12 jurors. There are no substitute jurors. Instead, if a juror is discharged during the course of the trial, the trial will continue unless the number of jurors goes below 10.

The Canadian constitution guarantees that anyone tried for an offence that has a maximum sentence of five or more years has the right to be tried by a jury (except for an offence under military law).

The names of jurors are protected by a publication ban. There is a specific criminal offence for disclosing anything that takes place during jury deliberations.

Juries are infrequently used in civil trials in Canada. Because juries have no power to award damages, as they do in the United States, there is less incentive to call for a trial with a jury.

England and Wales

In England and Wales jury trials are used for criminal cases, requiring 12 (between the ages of 18 and 75) jurors. The right to a jury trial has long been enshrined in English law, and is most common in the serious cases, although the defendant can insist on a jury trial for most criminal matters. Jury trials have been increasingly regarded as expensive, time-consuming, and anachronistic. On 18 June 2009 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting in the Court of Appealmarker, made English legal history by ruling that a criminal trial in the Crown Court could take place without a jury.

Jury trials are also available for some few areas of civil law (for example cases involving police conduct), which require 10 jurors not 12, but less than one percent of civil trials involve juries. At the new Manchester Civil Justice Centremarker, constructed in 2008, of the 48 courtrooms, fewer than 10 had jury facilities.

France

In France and other civil law jurisdictions, the jury sits on an equal footing with three professional judges. The jury and judges first consider the questions of guilt. Then, if applicable, they consider the penalty to apply. Juries are only used for severe felony cases with a ten-year or higher sentence.

Germany

Jury trials were abolished in Germanymarker on January 4, 1924, because their verdicts were not perceived as just.

India

Juries were formerly used in India up until the famous K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra, which led to the abolition of jury trials, although minor issues in rural areas are still handled by the panchayat raj system of village assemblies.

In the 1959 Nanavati case, Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati was tried for the murder of his wife Sylvia's paramour, Prem Ahuja. The incident shocked the nation, got unprecedented media coverage, and inspired several books and movies. The case was the last jury trial held in India.The central question of the case was whether the gun went off accidentally or whether it was a premeditated murder.

In the former scenario, Nanavati would be charged under the Indian penal code, for culpable homicide, with a maximum punishment of 10 years. In the latter, he would be charged with murder, with the sentence being death or life imprisonment. Nanavati pleaded not guilty. His defence team argued it was a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, while the prosecution argued it was premeditated murder.

The jury in the Greater Bombay sessions court pronounced Nanavati not guilty with an 8–1 verdict. The sessions judge considered the acquittal as perverse and referred the case to the high court. The prosecution argued that the jury had been misled by the presiding judge on four crucial points. One, the onus of proving that it was an accident and not premeditated murder was on Nanavati. Two, was Sylvia's confession of the grave provocation for Nanavati, or any specific incident in Ahuja's bedroom or both. Three, the judge wrongly told the jury that the provocation can also come from a third person. And four, the jury was not instructed that Nanavati's defence had to be proved, to the extent that there is no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person. The court accepted the arguments, dismissed the jury's verdict and the case was freshly heard in the high court. Since the jury had also been influenced by media and public support for Nanavati and was also open to being misled, the Indian government abolished jury trials after the case.

Republic of Ireland

In Ireland, a common law jurisdiction jury trials are available for criminal before the Circuit Court, Central Criminal Court and defamation cases. Consisting of twelve persons, juries are selected from a jury panel which is picked at random by the county registrar from the electoral register. Juries only decide questions of fact. They have no role in criminal sentencing or awarding damages in libel cases. It is not necessary that a jury be unanimous in its verdict.In civil cases, a verdict may be reached by a majority of nine of the twelve members. In a criminal case, a verdict need not be unanimous where there are not fewer than eleven jurors if ten of them agree on a verdict after considering the case for a "reasonable time".

For certain terrorist and organised crime offences the Director of Public Prosecutions may issue a certificate that the accused be tried by the Special Criminal Court. Instead of a jury the Special Criminal Court consists of three judges, one from the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court.

The constitutional provisions regulating the Trial of Offences are set out in article 37 of the Irish Constitution

DPP v MC Nally sets out that a jury has the right to reach a not guilty verdict even in direct contradicton of the evidence

The principal statute regulating the selection, obligations and conduct of juries is the Juries Act 1976 as amended by the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, which scrapped the upper age limit of 70. Juries are not paid, nor do they receive travel expenses, however they do receive lunch for the days that they are serving.

New Zealand

Juries are used in trials for all indictable offences and, at the option of the defendant, summary offences that can be punished with more than 3 months in prison. In civil cases juries are usually only used in cases of defamation. Previously requiring unanimous support, New Zealandmarker now permits majority results of 10-1 or 11-1.

Norway

The jury was introduced in 1887, and is solely used in criminal cases on the second tier of the three-tier Norwegian court system ("Lagmannsretten"). The jury consists of 10 people, and has to reach a majority verdict consisting of seven or more of the jurors.

The jury never gives a reason for the verdict.

Scotland

Scottish trials are based on an adversarial approach. First the prosecution leads evidence from witnesses and after each witness the defence has an opportunity to cross examine. Following the Prosecution case, the defence may move a motion of no case to answer if the worst the prosecution has been able to lead in evidence would be insufficient to convict of any crime. If there remains a case to answer, the defence leads evidence from witnesses in an attempt to refute previous evidence lead by the prosecution, with cross examination being permitted after each witness. Once both prosecution and defence have concluded leading evidence, the case goes to summing up where firstly the prosecution and then the defence get to sum up their case based on the evidence that has been heard. The jury is given guidance on points of law and then sent out to consider its verdict. Juries are composed of fifteen citizens, but this number is due to be reduced.

Spain

The Spanish judiciary system has no established tradition of using juries in trials but, after Franco's dictatorship, the Constitution of Spain of 1978 legislates the right to a trial by jury, called "popular jury" as opposed to a "magistrates jury". The wording is rather vague: "Section 125 - Citizens may engage in popular action and take part in the administration of justice through the institution of the jury, in the manner and with respect to those criminal trials as may be determined by law, as well as in customary and traditional courts."

Jury trials have been very slowly introduced in Spain and have often produced less than desirable results. One of the first cases was that of Mikel Otegi who was tried in 1997 for the murder of two policemen. After a confused trial, five jury members of a total of nine voted to acquit and the judge set the accused man free. This verdict shocked the nation.

Another jury case which resulted in a miscarriage of justice was the Wanninkhof murder case.

United States

Both Article III of the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment require that criminal case be tried by a jury, and the Fourteenth Amendment applies this mandate to the states. Although the initial draft did not require a jury for civil case, this led to an uproar which was followed by the Seventh Amendment, which requires a civil jury in cases where the value in dispute is greater than twenty dollars. However, it has been argued that this preservation of jury trial in civil matters is guided by state restrictions on civil jury trial as an absolute minimum and that the Federal Government is not required to provide a civil jury trial if the state in which the trial is being held does not also mandate civil jury trial in the same matter, since it is a preservation of a pre-existing right held in the states as opposed to unique rights held by the people against the Federal Government solely. In practice most criminal actions in the U.S. are resolved by plea bargain.

In 1898 the Supreme Court held that the jury must be composed of at least twelve persons, although this was not necessarily extended to state civil jury trials. In 1970, however, the Supreme Court held that the twelve persons requirement was a "historical accident", and upheld six-person juries in both criminal and civil cases. There is controversy over smaller juries, with proponents arguing that they are more efficient and opponents arguing that they lead to fluctuating verdicts. In later case, however, the court rejected the use of 5-person juries in criminal cases. Juries go through a selection process called voir dire in which the lawyers question the jurors and then make "peremptory strikes" (remove jurors). Traditionally the removal of jurors required no justification or explanation, but the tradition has been challenged by the Supreme Court. Since the 1970s "scientific jury selection" has become popular.

Unanimous jury verdicts have been standard in Western law. This standard was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1897, but it was rejected in 1972 in two criminal cases. As of 1999 over thirty states had laws allowing less than unanimity in civil cases, but Oregon and Louisiana are the only states which have laws allowing less than unanimous jury verdicts for criminal cases. When the required number of jurors cannot agree on a verdict (a situation sometimes referred to as a hung jury), a mistrial is declared, and the case may be retried with a newly constituted jury. The practice generally was that the jury rules only on questions of facts on guilt; setting the penalty was reserved for the judge. This has been changed by rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court such as in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), which found Arizona's practice, having the judge (in a capital punishment trial by jury) decide between life or death sentences, to be unconstitutional, and reserved that decision for the jury. The judge can, however, overrule the jury and reduce the penalty from death to life if he or she chooses, although this has not yet occurred in an actual trial.

There is no set format for jury deliberations, and the jury will take a period of time to settle into discussing the evidence. Electing a foreperson is usually the first step, although for a particularly short or straightforward case, this may not happen until the delivery of the verdict. If a foreman is elected at the beginning, he or she will chair the discussions, and it is his or her job to try to steer the jury towards a conclusion. The first step will typically be to find out the initial feeling or reaction to the case, which may be by a show of hands. The jury will then attempt to arrive at a consensus verdict. The exchanges of views caused by people whose opinions differ from the emerging consensus will air the issues involved in the case, and consequently points will often arise from the trial that were not specifically discussed during it. The result of these discussions is likely to be that one interpretation is shown to be the most reasonable, and a verdict is thus arrived at.

In criminal law, a grand jury is convened to hear only testimony and evidence to determine whether there is a case to be answered and hence whether the accused should be indicted and sent for trial. A separate petit jury (formed of petit jurors) is then convened to hear the trial. In many areas, depending upon the law, a third jury will determine what the penalty should be or recommend what the penalty should be in the penalty phase. At a sentencing hearing, the burden of proof is now preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt and hearsay is allowed. This practice gives the judge the power to change the finding of the jury when deciding on a sentence. When used alone the term jury usually refers to a petit jury.

In each court district, a group of 16–23 citizens holds an inquiry on criminal complaints brought by the prosecutor and decides if a trial is warranted, in which case an indictment is issued. In general, the size of juries tends to be larger if the crime alleged is more serious. If a Grand Jury rejects a proposed indictment it is known as a "no bill"; if they accept to endorse a proposed indictment it is known as a "true bill".

Jury Selection

Jurors are selected from a jury pool formed for a specified period of time—usually from one day to two weeks—from lists of citizens living in the jurisdiction of the court. The lists may be electoral rolls (i.e., a list of registered voters in the locale), people who have driver's licenses or other relevant data bases. When selected, being a member of a jury pool is, in principle, compulsory. Prospective jurors are sent a summons and are obligated to appear in a specified jury pool room on a specified date.

However, jurors can be released from the pool for several reasons including illness, prior commitments that can't be abandoned without hardship, change of address to outside the court's jurisdiction, and others. Often jurisdictions pay token amounts for jury duty and many issue stipends to cover transportation expenses for jurors. Work places cannot penalize employees who serve jury duty. Payments to jurors varies by jurisdiction.

In the United States jurors for grand juries are selected from jury pools.

Selection of jurors from a jury pool occurs when a trial is announced and juror names are randomly selected and called out by the jury pool clerk. Depending on the type of trial—whether a 6 person or 12 person jury is needed, in the United States—anywhere from 15 to 30 prospective jurors are sent to the courtroom to participate in voir dire, pronounced "vwar' dir'", and defined as the oath to speak the truth in the examination testing competence of a juror, or in another application, a witness. Once the list of prospective jurors has assembled in the courtroom the court clerk assigns them seats in the order their names were originally drawn. At this point the judge often will ask each prospective juror to answer a list of general questions such as name, occupation, education, family relationships, time conflicts for the anticipated length of the trial. The list is usually written up and clearly visible to assist nervous prospective jurors and may include several questions uniquely pertinent to the particular trial. These questions are to familiarize the judge and attorneys with the jurors and glean biases, experiences, or relationships that could jeopardize the proper course of the trial. After each prospective juror has answered the general slate of questions the attorneys may ask followup questions of some or all prospective jurors. Each side in the trial is allotted a certain number of challenges to remove prospective jurors from consideration. Some challenges are issued during voir dire while others are presented to the judge at the end of voir dire. The judge calls out the names of the anonymously challenged prospective jurors and those return to the pool for consideration in other trials. A jury is formed, then, of the remaining prospective jurors in the order that their names were originally chosen. Any prospective jurors not thusly impaneled return to the jury pool room.

Notes

  1. W.L. Warren, "Henry II" University of California Press,(1973)
  2. Daniel Klerman, "Was the Jury Every Self-Informing," Southern California Law Review 77: (2003), 123. http://lawweb.usc.edu/users/dklerman/documents/Klerman.Self-informing.pdf
  3. Oxford History of England, 2nd ed 1955, vol III Domesday Book to Magna Carta, A l Poole, pp.397-398.
  4. See, for example, discussions of the Brunner theory of testimonial, rather than judicial participation as jury origin, explored in MacNair, Vicinage and the Antecedents of the Jury - I. Theories, in Law and History Review, Vol. 17 No 3, 1999, pp. 6-18.
  5. Carey, Christopher. "Legal Space in Classical Athens." Greece & Rome 41(2): Oct. 1994, pp. 172-186.
  6. Dowlen, Oliver. Sorted: Civic Lotteries and the Future of Public Participation. (MASS LBP: Toronto, 2008) pp 38
  7. Review could reduce jury numbers BBC News, 26 April, 2008
  8. Scotsman Newspaper 11 May 2009
  9. Nullifying the Jury: “The Judicial Oligarchy” Declares War on Jury Nullification Washburn Law Journal May 2, 2007
  10. New Statesman, 2000-10-09.
  11. Criminal Code of Canada, s. 785 "summary conviction court"
  12. Criminal Code of Canada, s. 536
  13. Criminal Code of Canada, ss. 471-473
  14. Criminal Code of Canada, Part XX: Jury Trials
  15. R. v. Tatcher, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 652
  16. R. v. Robinson (2004), 189 C.C.C. (3d) 152 (Ont. C.A.)
  17. [ref name="CanadaJury" />
  18. Lloyd-Bostock S, Thomas C. (1999). DECLINE OF THE "LITTLE PARLIAMENT": JURIES AND JURY REFORM IN ENGLAND AND WALES. Law and Contemporary Problems.
  19. BBC News: First trial without jury approved, 18 June 2009
  20. Glendon MA, Carozza PG, Picker CB. (2008) Comparative Legal Traditions, p. 251. Thomson-West.
  21. ESPAÑA | Juicio a Mikel Otegi por asesinar a dos ertzainas. Un jurado popular adsuelve al joven de Jarrai
  22. Amar, A.R. (1998). The Bill of Rights. New Haven, CT: Yale University. pp. 81-118.
  23. This power is often used in drug cases "to impose an enhanced sentence ... based on the sentencing judge’s determination of a fact that was not found by the jury or admitted by the defendant". In April 2008, the U.S. District Court, in a 236 page opinion to address this ruled that juries should be told before they deliberate if a defendant is facing a mandatory minimum sentence and also called it "inappropriate" to ignore the juries power to refuse to convict (jury nullification).
  24. http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/CourTopics/StateLinks.asp?id=47&topic=JurMan



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