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Jury service

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Jury service

Old 31st Jul 2013, 07:53
  #21 (permalink)  
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angels

Interesting and informative post.
But,FL, is it not also against the law to disclose what went on in the jury room?

UFO
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 08:18
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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UFO

It could be argued that, strictly, angels has breached Section 8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment upon whether anyone would sensibly take the view that his very limited disclosure merits any action being taken, but to go any further would be unwise.


FL
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 09:15
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Without going into details of the case I was very impressed by my fellow jurors. Everyone took it very seriously, and was prepared to spend the time to consider, and then reconsider, all the evidence. In my experience. at least, people do understand the gravity of what they are being asked to do.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 09:26
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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No method of justice is perfect. It might seem in the interests of improving the practice of jury trials that appropriate research is carried out as to what actually happens in the secrecy of the jury room. Some judges might be surprised (to put it mildly) to appreciate the reality of the situation, and amend certain of their directions in the interest of justice.

In the case of Angels, I suspect the maxim 'de minimis non curat lex' would apply.

I do not expect Flying Lawyer to comment on either of the above.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 09:38
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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The judgment makes very interesting reading. The Judges' instructions to the jury in both cases were expressed in plain language and crystal clear. No sympathy for the defendants in either case.

That said, I do have some sympathy in general for jurors caught up in very long (and, whisper it, very dull) fraud trials, especially those who are under pressure from their employers. I don't know what the answer is though.

I'd like to think that most jurors were the calibre of angels and Captivep, with (a) a brain, and (b) some concept of the seriousness of the task which they are being asked to undertake. But there are obviously some sad cases out there. The thought of being on trial in front of a jury comprised of the likes of Mr. Davey is a scary one.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 09:41
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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I sometimes fear that anyone clever enough to be an effective juror is clever enough to get out of it, and we get what's left!
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 10:33
  #27 (permalink)  

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Expense on jury service are capped at around 70 per day (last time I looked)
Things are a little different here in Oz. No person either wins or loses financially by doing jury service. Following a recent overhaul of the Juries Act, employers are now required to pay their employees as usual and they then claim that amount from our department. If the juror is self-employed, he or she presents documentation to show what they would have earned and are then paid by us.

The overhaul of the act has now made it extremely difficult for people to be excused. As a result we are able to assemble juries from every section of the community including people who were formerly excused as of right, were disqualified or were ineligible. people who are summonsed may apply to be excused but the old 'work commitments" won't cut it any more, not even for medical people. People may also apply for a deferral which may be applied for up to six months but they must nominate a date - and do their jury service on that date.

As has been said, jurors must judge the case only on the evidence presented in court. Doing your own research is forbidden for very valid reasons and each juror takes an oath that they will judge only on the evidence.

It has been my experience that jurors take their job very seriously indeed and give all possible consideration to their verdicts. It is fascinating to watch a bunch of complete strangers from all walks of life meet for the first time and form a cohesive unit with a single purpose during the course of the trial.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 10:35
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My own jury experience was mixed. I sat on two cases, and without revealing details can say that one involved an alleged sexual assault. Our jury was split roughly one third men, two thirds women. Although most were very careful to only take the evidence presented into account, two of the women were very dismissive of the main woman witness, based, it seems, on the style of dress and make up she wore when giving evidence. These two jurors seemed to place far greater weight on the witnesses appearance than they did on her evidence (which was fairly central to the case).

I'll admit to feeling fairly uncomfortable about this, and it did contribute to a very lengthy discussion when we were reaching a verdict. I suspect that such prejudices are an inherent part of the jury system, though. One just has to hope that there are enough fair-minded jurors to be able to point out the need to only weigh the evidence presented, and persuade those influenced by other factors to do likewise.

Last edited by VP959; 31st Jul 2013 at 10:37.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 14:00
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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A friend of mine was called as a juror in California. It involved a murder and dismemberment by two people. My friend was asked if he knew anything about the case and responded on the lines of:

"I see the District Attorney is prosecuting this case personally. He wouldn't be doing that if there was the slightest chance that these weren't guilty".

He was out immediately. It was said the one only time I was called that if you turned up in a suit carrying a Daily Telegraph, you were likely to find yourself out very quickly, as the defence would object because they felt you were biased.
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Old 31st Jul 2013, 15:43
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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MarcK,
Does the UK have the concept of "jury nullification"?
An interesting concept. It has occured in the UK. I am not aware as to whether it is formally recognised.

Certainly it is not permissable for judges to punish jurors for arriving at a verdict that the judge disagrees with.

One thing to think of though is that a jury is sworn in. A juror swears to"...faithfully try the defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence"; or something like that.

If a jury, or juror, elected to vote in opposition to what they actually believed then they would be in breach of that oath.
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 08:03
  #31 (permalink)  
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If a jury, or juror, elected to vote in opposition to what they actually believed then they would be in breach of that oath.
Don't understand that. As I see it a juror might have to vote the opposite of what he believed in to comply with the oath - i.e. to try the case on the evidence and not what he knows.

Hypothetical situation. You happen to know that a certain restaurant was closed to the public for a private function on a certain day, perhaps because you tried to book it, or because you were there at the function. The defendant's alibi is that he was at that restaurant on that day. The prosecution do not offer any evidence to negate this alibi. This might be the only "reasonable doubt" that the other 11 jurors want to acquit the defendant on. You have to vote with them, despite knowing it's false.

I suppose your real duty would be to wait until all the evidence has been presented, and then declare yourself as unfit as a juror on the basis that you have evidence that would affect the verdict, which you had expected to hear as the trial progressed.

I was educated as a scientist and trained and work as an engineer and we are used to looking for the truth in a situation. I would find it very hard to vote against what I know to be true. I am glad I don't have to do it.

UFO
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Old 1st Aug 2013, 08:21
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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That said, I do have some sympathy in general for jurors caught up in very long (and, whisper it, very dull) fraud trials,
Octopussy

I don't know if it was enacted, but there was a proposal to hear fraud trials in front of specialised judges only: this was however down to the technical complexity of the cases rather than duration.
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