The Process of Choosing Jurors and Their Role
The right to trial by jury can be traced back to Magna Carta (The
Great Charter of Liberties, 1215) and the independence of the jury
from the judge was established in Bushell's Case (1670).
In criminal cases, the jury make the decision whether the defendant is
guilty or not guilt. However, this is approximately only 3% of all
crimes, and these are heard in the Crown Court.
In civil cases, the jury decide if the claimant has proved their case
and the amount of damages (compensation). Nevertheless, it is a right
in only four types of civil case, which are: defamation over £10,000,
malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and fraud. In other civil
cases it is discretionary.
To be on a jury you need to qualify. To qualify for jury service a
person must be aged between 18 and 70, registered on the electoral
roll, and they must have lived in the UK for at least five years since
the age of 13.
People are ineligible for jury service if they are suffering from
certain mental disorders, if they are part of the judiciary and/or
linked to others concerned with the administration of justice, and
finally, if they are a member of the Clergy.
Those with certain criminal convictions, and those currently on bail
in criminal proceedings are automatically disqualified for jury
service for 10 years, for example, people that have served any part of
a sentence of imprisonment. Certain individuals are disqualified for
life, say if they have served life imprisonment or to a term longer
than five years.
There are people that are excused of jury service have to either be
aged 65-70 years old, a member of Parliament, in the armed forces,
have done jury service in the last two years, or are practising
members of a religious society. Before the Criminal Justice Act 2003
people such as medical professionals, judges and police officers were
exempt from jury duty.
Certain individuals can gain discretional excusal if they have a very
good reason. For example, being a full time member of her Majesty’s
Service, such as the armed forces. They can also be excused by the
judge for lack of capacity because of physical disability, for example
deafness or inadequate comprehension of the English language. Almost
everyone will have to perform jury service until the Lord Chancellor
issues Guidance, which states 7 major points on how and why people can
be excused from jury service.
The method of selection has changed in the last few years. The old
method involved sending out notices and questioning the possible jury
so that they could be selected. On September the 4th 2000 juries began
to be selected by computer. This was done to make jury service more
attractive and stop thousands of people a year evading jury service.
The computer selects jurors from...