Different forms of jury trial and the disadvantages of jury trial
The different forms of jury trial are in criminal and civil courts. In civil courts now very little cases are trialed by jury but examples of cases that would be are libel and slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and fraud. In criminal cases trial by jury is now confined to trials on indictment before a crown court therefore only a small amount are tried by jury. Also it is considered that the greater expense involved in holding a jury trial is justifiable for more serious offences. I don’t think that it is justified to refer to the jury in terms of ‘the lamp that shows that freedom lives’ for many reasons.
Firstly if people have to attend the trial when being called as a juror that is anything but freedom as they don’t have a choice whether they want to do it or not. Although on the other hand some may say that it is justified as it means that the general publics are getting a say. The advantages of jury trials are that it adds certainty to law as it gives a general verdict which cannot be misunderstood for example in a criminal case the jury states whether they are finding the person guilty or not guilty.
Also they can be seen as protection against oppressive or politically motivated parties as they have the right to find defendants innocent or guilty. Disadvantages of the jury system include that a lot of jurors aren’t sufficiently qualified to do the task. Some say that some jurors being summoned aren’t intelligent enough and haven’t got a good enough education. Also there has been concern with the average jury’s understanding of complex fraud cases. Another disadvantage is that research has shown that an acquittal is about twice as likely in a jury trial down to either their inability to do the task or sympathy with defendants.
There are also problems with the fact that jurors may be bias for or against certain groups. Examples may be that they may favour attractive members of the opposite sex or be prejudiced against police or other members of authority. Another disadvantage is that manipulation of the right to jury trial is a problem. Many guilty defendants choose jury trial to make use of the delay that comes with this, there are three main reasons for this, it may put pressure n the Crown Prosecution service to reduce the charge in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty.
They may also do this because it may make it less likely that the prosecution witness will fail to attend the trial or weaken their recollection. The final reason why they may do this is that if they are being held on remand, they are kept in a local prison they are allowed privileges that convicted criminals aren’t. Another problem is that trial by jury costs more, also jury service is unpopular but refusal to act as a juror leads to contempt of court. Finally another disadvantage could be that some details of cases may bring stress to members of the jury.
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