I Am Going to Discuss Whether Jury's Are Anti Democratic, Irrational Haphazard Legislators Whose Erratic and Secret Decisions Run Counter to the Rule of Law?

Submitted by: Submitted by

Views: 1257

Words: 1941

Pages: 8

Category: Other Topics

Date Submitted: 03/05/2011 07:20 PM

Report This Essay

In the article ‘The lamp that shows that freedom lives - is it worth the candle?’ Penny Darbyshire states: ‘Juries are not random, not representative, but anti democratic, irrational and haphazard legislators whose erratic and secret decisions run counter to the rule of law’. I am going to discuss whether jury’s are anti democratic, irrational haphazard legislators whose erratic and secret decisions run counter to the rule of law?

Jurors have an important role in the English legal system they are expected to act purely as fact finders, examining the evidence to determine the true facts of the case. The judge directs jurors as to the relevant law which they apply to the case and thereby reach a verdict. Juries play no part in decisions of law or legal procedure; in criminal law they decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and in civil liability the burden of proof is a balance of probabilities. The jury must also decide the value of the damages awarded in civil cases.

Jurors are selected at randomly from the electoral register. The selection process has been described as ‘The essence of the jury system’. Juries are intended to be a ‘representative cross section of the population, reflecting the views of the community at large.’ The Juries Act 1974 sets out the qualifications needed ‘A person must be between 18 and 70 years of age and must have lived in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for any period of at least 5 years since the age of 13.’ For this reason Penny Darbyshire describes juries as ‘anti democratic.’ This does not seem problematic because juries appear to bring public confidence into the English Legal System by allowing peers to judge each other. The verdicts are seen as verdicts of the society rather than the judges. The judicial system has received considerable criticism for being non representative of society as Lord Chief Justice Philips described the selection process of judges as ‘a...