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It can adequately be argued that the jury system has its roots in England and it is basically made up of twelve people who sit in criminal and civil events to make decisions on matters of facts and not law since the jurists in most cases do not have legal knowledge now that they are not experts in law.
The members of the jury are individuals who command great respect and dignity in the society and in some instances they have expert knowledge on various matters that warrant them to sit in court and contribute immensely on the matter of the law.
England has practiced the jury system for the past 800 years. The justification behind the establishment of the jury system in England was to have the court to personally investigate some cases for fairness and truth to be established since the reports on false statements were all over. This was much of an inquisitorial system of law where the court was directly involved in the conduction of private investigations on the cases before it. This approach is the best since it helps the court to avoid relying on false statements presented by the parties to the case hence the need for other countries to adopt it and avoid cases of miscarriage of justice. Formerly, it was anticipated that there must be a unanimous verdict of either not guilty or not guilty something that has changed with time to have permit a 10-2 majority verdict in the event that the members of the jury do not agree within the specified timeframe, the judge at his or her discretion may allow such a verdict. In other words, the decisions arrived at by the jury should not be influenced by anything else apart from the law and the evidence transmitted in the court. Individual members of the public are chosen at random to offer service a move that is meant to make sure that the chosen people are not biased in the various court matters presented before them.
The jury service is ruled by the Juries Act 1974 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003. This is a great pointer to the fact that it is a process that is fully backed by law and as such, needs to be taken seriously for fairness and pure justice to be realized. In trials by jury, the jury decides on factual questions and the judge decides on law questions. It is has thus become prudent for the courts to make sure that the contributions by the jury are impartial and a reflection of a pure thought process. Legal psychology concerns the thought process as well as the behaviors of the jurors, the court and the entire legal process. This is equivalent to the manner in which human psychology impacts on the various decisions made in the legal process.
The jury must decide upon facts to determine someone’s guilt or non guilt. Listen to disputes and take notes on evidence and facts presented to assist in making a decision. Jurors add certainty to the law, that is the jury merely states that the accused is guilty or not guilty and does not give a reason. There is no disputing the decision since this will be a recipe for doubts on the credibility of the thought process all along hence making the justice system to be devoid of any kind of public trust. This is in line with the fact that for the courts to be respected then they must have both the trust and approval from the members of the general public without which the administration of justice will be nothing but an exercise in futility. The jury is capable of providing social and psychological inputs where the rigidity and objectivity of the law cannot. This is owing to the fact that in most cases, the laws were formulated to curb specific behaviors based on the circumstances as they were then something that makes most of the present day laws to be not only subjective but also rigid hence unable to deal with most of the current cases that continue to characterize the courtrooms.
The juries are under an obligation to be impartial and independent at all times since this is the only way through which they can constructively engage their minds without any pressures from external forces something that may negatively impact on the course of justice altogether. This aspect of independence and impartiality of the members of the jury was well established in the reported case of Bushell’s Case (1670).
There are various reasons that make the role of jury so much indispensable in the justice system and are directly linked to their state of mind or rather psychology and they include the following. Jury will provide a sympathetic hearing (a fairer one) something that is key in making sure that they feel the impact that the matter at hand is having on both parties and as a result be able to offer a valid and acceptable judgment. The jury has no previous knowledge of case and can give an unbiased decision. The Fact that the juries have nothing to do with the case and at the same time lack any background information on the parties involved in the dispute makes it easy for their decisions to be believed on the basis that they are unbiased and objective by all standards.
When there is a “rouge” juror majority verdicts allow justice something that is key in making sure that the final decision will be subjected to a vote and as a result, the majority will carry the day. This eliminates any juror having bias tendency or bring their personal feeling into the trial. Retrial is available in cases that are tainted (nobbling) Section 54 Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996. Such a process is important in making sure that proper justice is achieved to avoid incidences in which one party to the dispute goes home totally unsatisfied with the final decision that has been arrived at. This is also one of the best ways that the jury system in the United Kingdom has used to make sure that the courts have absolute public trust and confidence at all times.
Judge has to explain legal matters something that is important to make sure that the deliberations by the members of the jury are confined within the province and proper interpretation of the law at all times. This is also one of the best ways that the jury system has maintained to make sure that in as much as the influences of psychology cannot be done away with in matters of justice, the provisions of the law take absolute precedence for a fair decision that is properly underpinned by the legal principles to be achieved altogether. The jury is not qualified in the area of law and may not understand the terms used something that continues to qualify why the bench or the judges have to take charge by way of explaining the matters of the law before the members of the jury are allowed to further deliberate on the matter and reach a justifiable decision as far as the matters at hand are concerned. . It has been argued that jury is not smart enough to handle fact finding in cases such as fraud and embezzlement and they do not have sufficient experience to deal with complex cases where evidence requires analytical skills something that was pointed out in the landmark case of Aitken v Preston (1997) CA. Some cases are emotional cases and jury may be tempted to bring a guilty verdict based on personal feelings rather than a verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. This is however one of the greatest weaknesses of the jury system hence the need for the court to make sure that the members of the jury brought on board have the propensity to maintain absolute objectivity at all times without allowing themselves to be under the influence of emotions and other considerations that have the propensity to tilt their psychological status and negatively impact on the quality of the final judgment that they have to issue on the matters before them.
In conclusion and though there are shortcomings of the jury system, it is important that they be retained as a means of administering public justice. These are the people with the capacity to tackle issues in such a way that leaves both the parties to the various disputes satisfied to the maximum owing to the objectivity of the final decisions that they do come up with. It is argued that judges give harsh sentences and the juror being an ordinary person is more inclined to have a open mind and their verdict is generally accepted by the public. An Act has never been passed by parliament to abolish the jury system. The absence of such a legislation in the country aimed at abolishing the jury system is a great testament to the fact that the system is serving the justice system in the country in the best way possible and also it continues to have tremendous public trust something that makes it all important not to abolish it since this has the propensity of injuring the justice system.
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