Jury must die Essay

Jury must die

Left or right, up or down, yes or no, pass or fail- only one of each pair of words must prevail. At least in these particular situations, the possible outcome entirely depends on the words of the individual. Whether or not he will be on the left, up, a yes or pass lies on his decision-on what he is going to say based on how he is going to weigh things. But how about if the condition is not merely around these matters? What if the single word that will prevail would mean a lot to the person to be subjected to such jurisdiction? How will it be like if that single word will cause his life to be totally and completely changed? Worst is, if the change will be the nastiest unreasonably. How is it to be put in between a guilty or not guilty plea? Is jury the best medium to achieve justice in our society? Is it really relevant and reasonable to adopt this kind of system in justifying the attainment of justice-the pure and the real one?

The word “jury” originates from the Latin “juris” which means law. In French, it was known as “juri” which denotes a law body. In our world today, it is recognized as “jury” perse. Jury is a bound by body or group of persons who come together to present a rational, unprejudiced judgment and a determination of fact as to a factual issue based on the evidence presented on a legal question authoritatively proposed to them, or to set a punishment or judgment in a jury trial of a court law.

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Juries may tackle about questions of law in addition to questions of facts, albeit federal juries in the United States are usually restricted in dealing with the questions of fact.

The contemporary jury can show a discrepancy in size depending on the proceeding but most often than not, it has either six or twelve members.

By United States law, federal grand juries and petit juries must be selected at random from a fair cross-section of the community in the district or division wherein the court convenes. The jury selection varies somewhat. The Supreme Court of the United States has indicated in a series of decisions that a jury is to be composed of the so called “peers and equals” and that systematic exclusion from a jury of particular class of people, that is, on the basis of gender, color of the skin or ancestry, violates the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the defendant’s right to a jury trial.

However, a defendant is not entitled to a jury of any particular composition.

The petit jury or trial jury hears the evidence in a case and decides the disputed facts and is comprised of twelve jurors, although Scotland utilizes fifteen jurors in criminal trials.

On the other hand, a grand jury, a type of jury now confined almost exclusively to the United States, conducts investigations of public problems and may approve an application to prosecute someone for a crime, the so called “Bill of Indictment”, thereby appointing the applicant to serve as the prosecutor.

A report on its investigative findings is called a presentment, which may include authorization to prosecute a criminal offense revealed by that investigation.
Serving on a jury is normally compulsory for those individuals who are qualified for jury service. Since a jury is intended to be an impartial panel capable of reaching a verdict, there are often procedures and requirements, for instance, fluent understanding of the language, or the ability to test jurors or otherwise exclude jurors who might be perceived as less than neutral or more partial to hear one side or the other.

The jurors hear the cases presented by both the defense and prosecution and in some jurisdictions a summary from the judge. They then retire as a group to consider a verdict.

The majority required for a verdict varies. In some countries their decision making process is private and may not be disclosed, in others it may be discussed but only after the trial has ended.

Jury, just like any other factors playing their dominating roles, has its historical roots.

The modern jury trial as it is now understood was later developed in England during the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, a document issued by Henry II of England in 1166. This established juries of the hundreds and boroughs. These juries of presentment were required to declare on oath before visiting justices and sheriffs, who were accused or suspected of serious felonies. The function of a presentment jury was to bring cases, which had before only been possible by private appeal. Henry’s assize may well have only formalized a system in operation and first referred to in a decree issued by Aethelred at Wantage, which enacted that in every wapentake “the twelve leading thegns together with the reeve shall go out and swear on the relics which are given into their hands, that they will not accuse any innocent man nor shield a guilty one”.  The concept can also be traced to Normandy before 1066, when a jury of nobles was established to decide land disputes. In this manner, the Duke, being the largest land owner, could not act as a judge in his own case. Many ancient cultures had similar concepts, notably ancient Judea whose panel of judges called the Sanhedrin served a similar purpose. The Athenians by 500 BCE had also invented the jury court, with votes by secret ballot. These courts were eventually granted the power to annul unconstitutional laws, thus introducing judicial review.

And as they are supposed to be of great aid to the attainment of a clean and pure justice in the society, jury has its secrecy and independence.

For juries to fulfill their role to analyze the facts of the case, there are strict rules about their use of information during the trial. They are not allowed to learn about the case from any source other than the trial, nor can they conduct their own investigations such as independently visiting the crime scene. Parties, lawyers, and witnesses are not allowed to speak with a member of the jury, and jurors are not allowed to read news or other accounts of the trial. In high-profile cases, some juries are sequestered for the deliberation phase, or for the entire trial.

Conversely, jurors are generally required to keep their deliberations in strict confidence. Whether this non-disclosure requirement extends after the verdict has been rendered depends on the jurisdiction. In English law, the jury’s deliberations must never be disclosed outside the jury, even years after the case; to repeat parts of the trial or verdict is considered to be contempt of court, a criminal offense and can result in imprisonment. In the United States, this rule does not apply, and sometimes jurors have made remarks that called into question whether a verdict was properly arrived at.

Because of the desire to prevent undue influence on a jury, jury tampering is a serious crime, whether attempted through bribery, threat of violence, or other means. Jurors themselves can also be held liable if they deliberately compromise their impartiality.

So, in other words, what are really the roles of these juries? Why do the government or whoever is concerned, must create such juries? What are they intended for? What is it that they must actually do?

In common law countries such as England and the United States, the role of the jury is often described as a finder of fact, while the judge is seen as having the sole responsibility of interpreting the appropriate law and instructing the jury accordingly. The jury will render a verdict on the defendant’s guilt, or civil liability.

Occasionally, if jurors find the law to be invalid or unfair, they may acquit the defendant, regardless of the evidence that the defendant violated the law. This is commonly referred to as jury nullification. When there is no jury (“bench trial”), the judge makes factual rulings in addition to legal ones. In most continental European jurisdictions, the judges have more power in a trial and the role and powers of a jury are often restricted. Actual jury law and trial procedures differ between countries.

In the United States, some juries are also entitled to make factual findings on particular aggravating circumstances which will be used to elevate the defendant’s sentence, if the defendant is convicted. This practice is now required in all death penalty cases as a result of Blakely v. Washington, where the Supreme Court ruled that allowing judges to make such findings unilaterally violates the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.

In Canada, juries are also allowed to make suggestions for sentencing periods and at the time of sentencing; the suggestions of the jury are presented before the judge by the Crown prosecutor(s) before the sentence is handed down.

However, this is not the practice in most other legal systems based on the English tradition, in which judges retain sole responsibility for deciding sentences according to law. The exception is the award of damages in English law libel cases, although a judge is now obliged to make a recommendation to the jury as to the appropriate amount.

In the United Kingdom, a similar power exists, often called “jury equity”. This enables a jury to reach a decision in direct contradiction with the law if they feel the law is unjust. This can create a persuasive precedent for future cases, or render prosecutors reluctant to bring a charge – thus a jury has the power to influence the law.

Perhaps the best example of modern-day jury equity in England and Wales was the acquittal of Clive Ponting, on a charge of revealing secret information, under s.2 of the Official Secrets Act, 1911 in 1985. Mr. Ponting’s defense was that the revelation was in the public interest. The trial judge directed the jury that “the public interest is what the government of the day says it is” – effectively a direction to the jury to convict. Nevertheless, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Another example is the acquittal in 1989 of Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, who confessed in open court to charges of springing the Soviet spy George Blake from Wormwood Scrubs Prison and smuggling him to East Germany in 1966. Pottle successfully appealed to the jury to disregard the judge’s instruction that they consider only whether the defendants were guilty in law, and assert a jury’s ancient right to throw out a politically-motivated prosecution, in this case compounded by its cynical untimeliness.

In Scotland (with a separate legal system from that of England and Wales) although technically the “not guilty” verdict was originally a form of jury nullification, over time the interpretation has changed so that now the “not guilty” verdict has become the normal one when a jury is not persuaded of guilt and the “not proven” verdict is only used when the jury is not certain of innocence or guilt. It is absolutely central to Scottish/UK law that there is a presumption of innocence. It is not a trivial distinction since any shift in the burden of proof is a significant change which undermines the safeguard for the citizen.

But how effective is jury really? Are they actually doing what they are supposed to do? Is a clean, pure and fair decision really reigns after the jury presents their judgment? Is jury the best way, or should I say, a way, since I can not really accept and absorb that this jury plays even a little good usually to those people placed in hot spots,  in the attainment of justice? Should the use of jury in trials for the quest of truth continue? Or should it be ignored, disregarded and let die of natural death?

In Canada, juries are used for some criminal trials but not others. For less serious offences that come to trial, a judge alone makes the ruling. In some more serious offences, the accused person can choose to be judged by either a judge or a judge and jury. In the most serious offences, such as murder or treason, a judge and a jury are always used. In Canada, a jury does not make a recommendation as to the length of sentence. In Canada, juries are selected according to a specific selection of criteria. Prospective jurors may only be asked certain questions, selected for direct pertinence to impartiality or other relevant matters; any other questions must be approved by the judge. Juries are only rarely used in civil trials in Canada. Juries have no power to award damages, as they do in the United States, making the incentive to call for a trial with a jury to be less attractive.

In Brazil, the Constitution demands that all cases of first degree murder be judged by juries, but there are authorities that are judged by judges even in cases of first degree murder. This is the only crime judged by juries in Brazil. Jurors vote in secret to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not, and decisions are taken by majority.

While in January 04, 1924, jury trials were abolished in Germany due to their verdicts which were not perceived just anymore -that the jury has lost their credibility.

With more resemblance with this severe failure condition of jury, in India, the use of jury was also stopped in 1959.

The Indian judicial system stopped using juries after the famous K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra case. While no formal juries exist in India today, many minor issues are, in rural areas, still handled by the panchayat raj system of village assemblies.

K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra was a 1959 Indian court case involving Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, who was tried for shooting Prem Ahuja, his wife Sylvia’s paramour. The incident shocked the nation, got unprecedented media coverage and inspired several books and movies. The case was the last jury trial held in India. The crux of the case was whether the gun went off accidentally or whether it was a premeditated murder. In the former scenario, Nanavati would be charged under the Indian penal code, for culpable homicide, with a maximum punishment of 10 years and in the latter, he would be charged with murder, with the sentence being death or life imprisonment.

Nanavati pleaded not guilty and his defense team argued it as case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, while the prosecution argued it was premeditated murder. The jury in the Greater Bombay sessions court pronounced Nanavati as not guilty, with an 8–1 verdict. The session’s judge considered the acquittal as perverse and referred the case to the high court. The prosecution argued that the jury had been misled by the presiding judge on four crucial points. One, the onus of proving that it was an accident and not premeditated murder was on Nanavati. Two, was Sylvia’s confession of the grave provocation for Nanavati, or any specific incident in Ahuja’s bedroom or both. Three, the judge wrongly told the jury that the provocation can also come from a third person. And four, the jury was not instructed that Nanavati’s defense had to be proved, to the extent that there is no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person. The court accepted the arguments, dismissed the jury’s verdict and the case was freshly heard in the high court. Since the jury had also been influenced by media and public support for Nanavati and was also open to being misled, the Indian government abolished jury trials after the case.

These are just some of the misleading and extremely annoying works of jury. The earth is so big, that in one or the other, in every minute of the day, there is at least one person alleged of a wrong doing and at least one out of five wrongly alleged suffer the consequences because of the inappropriate and biased verdict of jury. So out this, I must say, that I am one of the persons who stand strongly against the presence of jury. I must say that Jury must indeed die.

Reference List:

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9106462/jury

www.ajs.org/jc/bibliography/jc_bibl_history.pdf

http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v21n1/jury.htm

http://www.glenncourt.ca.gov/court_info/grand_jury.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._M._Nanavati_vs._State_of_Maharashtra

http://jurygeek.blogspot.com/2005/06/tort-reform-or-jury-elimination-redux.html

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/nuls/alsp/abstracts/brooks01.htm