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Legal System | Criminal Courts

Jury: Advantages

Model Answer | A Level

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Discuss the advantages of using jurors in the criminal justice process

Jury equity is a key advantage. As jurors are not legal experts they are not bound to follow precedent, do not have to give reasons for their decision and therefore can decide a verdict on the basis of fairness. As illustrated by the case of Ponting, the defendant had leaked secret government papers and the judge directed the jury it was an offence for which there was no defence under Official Secrets Act 1920 but the jury acquitted him. In Blythe, the jury acquitted the defendant who grew cannabis for his dying wife, he argued duress but the judge told the jury that the defence was not available.

Jury independence is important as established in the Bushell's Case (1670) where the Chief Justice noted .. the right of juries to give their verdict by their conscience....

Secrecy has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights as a .. crucial and legitimate feature of English trial law... (Gregory v UK). It guarantees open and honest deliberations and helps the right verdict to be found.

The Magna Carta 1215 set out the right to .. lawful judgment of his peers.... In Ward v James, Lord Denning spoke in favour of the system saying that .. trial by jury has no equal....

Juries allow the public to participate in the justice system. This means cases have to be clear so the jury can follow the arguments, in turn this helps understanding for defendants and wider public. Despite the lack of training or expertise, juries are well regarded and decisions of juries more widely accepted. Lay people involvement helps balance against state interference. Lord Devlin stated the jury system is the lamp that shows that freedom lives....

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