|Jury Service: England & Wales|
The role of a Juror.
As a Juror you are 1 of 12 people sworn in to deliver a verdict in a case submitted to them; collectively 12 Juror’s make up a Jury.
The role of the Jury.
The jury is responsible for finding the facts of a case, whilst the judge determines the law. The Jury is responsible for listening to a dispute, evaluating the evidence presented, deciding on the facts, and making a decision in accordance with the rules of law and their jury instructions.
After listening to evidence at trial a Jury decides on a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
The Judge is then responsible for deciding on the penalty.
How the Jury is selected.
A jury is made up of 12 members of the public, randomly selected using the electoral registers.
Who can be selected for jury service.
You may be asked to do jury service if you:
If you are selected for Jury Service.
If you're selected for jury service, you will be sent a 'jury summons'. This tells you the time and date you need to be at court.
You must complete and return it to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau within seven days from the day you get it.
You will then be sent details of how to get to the court and what to expect once you are there.
Prior to attending Court read all the paperwork you have received. This will give directions to the Court you are attending, the time you need to attend and the person to contact on your arrival.
You may also need to be take some form of photographic identification.
If for any reason you can not attend Jury service you need to notify the Court as soon as possible with your reason.
Be aware that you could be fined up to £1,000 if you don't arrive for jury service.
When you arrive at Court you will be directed to the jury waiting area until a court official calls your name. Normally 15 jurors in total are called and taken into the courtroom. The court clerk randomly selects 12 names of the people that are to form the jury.
If you are not selected, you may:
Number of jurors required.
Number of jurors in England and Wales
Objection to jurors.
During selection of a jury, an objection to a juror could be lodged by the prosecution or defence team. If it is a joint objection you may not become part of the jury. If just one side objects, a reason must be given and the judge will decide whether you should be excused or not.
Knowledge of the accused.
Likewise, as a Juror, it may become apparent that you have some connection with the case, this may be personal knowledge of the case, you may know some one involved, or you may work for the same employer as the accused. You will normally be presented with a list (mostly verbal and read out by the prosecution) of all associated persons and companies to ensure you have no knowledge of the case. This allows you to sit as part of an unbiased Jury.
If you believe you may have some knowledge however minor you should tell the Clerk of Court immediately. The judge will then decide whether you should be excused from serving as a juror or not.
The Clerk of the Court will administer the oath. This process is called 'swearing in'. You can affirm instead of swearing the oath (different religions with be given their respective holy books, such as the Bible, Koran etc). Affirming means that you make a non religious promise before the court that you will try the case faithfully and reach a true verdict on the evidence presented.
A verdict is whether someone is guilty or not guilty of committing a crime.
There are two sides to each trial
The prosecution acts on behalf of the victim(s) of the crime.
The defence acts on behalf of the person on trial for committing the crime - the ‘defendant’
You will hear an introduction to the case by the Prosecution outlining the facts of the case. The defence will then cross examine those facts.
The “first round” is presented by the Prosecution in which prosecution witnesses give their evidence in chief. The Defence will then ask them about their evidence. This is referred to as cross examination.
The Prosecution can then ask any further questions of the Prosecution Witness if needed, this is known as re examination.
As there is no obligation to prove innocence the accused does not have to give evidence. However, if the accused does decide to give evidence then the roles are reversed.
Defence Counsel will then call their witnesses and defendants.
Prosecution Counsel will cross examine the defendants and their witnesses.
Defence Counsel can then re examine.
Following the questioning of witnesses the Prosecution will present a summary of the case and highlight again any evidence that they want to bring to the Jury’s attention.
The Defence will then follow a similar practise.
You can take notes during the trial but they cannot be taken home.In some situations it may be that you need to ask a question about a piece of evidence you have heard. You can write your question on a piece of paper and pass it to the Clerk of the Court who will then pass it to the Judge. The Judge will then answer your question as it is most important that you have a full understanding of what is being presented before you.
Discharge of jurors.
During a trial, an individual juror can be discharged and the trial can continue so long as the minimum number of jurors remain. Discharge is at the discretion of the judge and only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
Where misconduct cannot be dealt with by discharge of an individual juror, or in the case of jury tampering, or where the jury cannot reach a verdict, the entire jury can be discharged.
In cases where inadmissible evidence has been introduced during a trial that may prejudice the jury this does not necessarily lead to discharge of the jury.
The matter rests at the discretion of the judge who may conclude that the rights of the defendant can be adequately protected by directing the jury to ignore the evidence.
Retirement of the jury.
Following a trial the judge outline the facts of the case which is referred to as summing up, the Judge will then instruct the Jury to retire to deliberate over the evidence they have heard and press the jury for a unanimous verdict.
The Judge will also ask the Jury to appoint a spokesperson also known as the foreman to speak on their behalf, this might be to direct any potential questions through and also to deliver any verdicts.
The Judge may also inform the Jury that a majority is acceptable only until after 2 hours and 10 minutes. This was originally 2 hours but it was extended to allow time for the jury to settle after retiring. In this instance it will depend on the complexity of the case, where a trial has commenced for many weeks with lots of evidence, a Jury may take days to reach a verdict.
Following the retirement of the jury, the court usher swears to keep the jury in some "private and convenient place", to prevent them from speaking to anyone else about the case.
Not even the Judge is allowed to ask the Jury any questions apart from whether they have agreed upon their verdict.
The usher, then becoming the jury bailiff then remains outside the jury room during the deliberations. The jury, may at any time, send a note to the judge asking a question about a point of law or to refresh themselves on any evidence. It is a contempt of court for a juror to disclose, or for anyone else enquire into, the nature of the jury's deliberations in any way ( this includes any association in the form of social networking sites, email / electronic communications- indeed any form of communication).
The jury may return a verdict of:
It is also possible that no decision is reached. If this happens, there is usually a new trial with a new jury.