Jury Trial Essay example

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Jury Trial

The history of jury trial dates back many centuries in which time the role and status of jury members have changed considerably as have the number and range of cases tried by the jury system. A major milestone in the history of juries was in Bushell's Case (1670), that established that the juries were the sole judges of fact, with the right to give a verdict according to conscience. They could not be penalized for taking a view of the facts opposed to that of the judge. The importance of this power today is that juries may acquit a defendant, even when the law demands a guilty verdict. In contemporary society, the jury is considered a fundamental part of the English legal system, and
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"The lamp that shows freedom lives"… in other words, the symbolic function of the jury surpasses its practical significance.

Jury selection is seen to provide fairness and independence. Jurors are selected at random from the area local to the Crown Court. The random nature of the selection helps to guard against the risk of a jury panel being skewed in favour of one of the parties and to guard against the perception of this risk. Juries should therefore compromise a representative sample of the whole population. Also, while the judiciary are themselves independent of the executive, the presence of members of the public on the fact-finding panel may give further reassurance that the defendant's guilt or innocence is not being determined by the state. It creates a sense of openness and reinforces public involvement in the justice system, which is a sign of a healthy democratic society. This is clearly important with regards public confidence and independence. Who better to judge the essential issues of criminal trials than those with similar backgrounds to the defendants and to have had experiences which are sufficiently close to that of the defendant to enable them to take a view on a person's possible responses in those circumstances.

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