Common law Research Paper

1. Why are juries important in the adversarial system? Juries are a panel of citizens selected randomly from the electoral role to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused, thus are a fundamental part of how the adversarial system functions. The right to a trial by jury is enshrined by the right to a fair trial. Juries enable a fair trial as they are members of the community who are making an impartial judgement based on what the two opposing sides presents to them, hence they are less prone to bias and bigoted views enabling them to improve access to justice.

When a verdict is made, it is often made unanimously so there should be no doubt on the jurors mine as to whether the accused is guilty or not. There are some circumstances, when a majority verdict takes place 11 against 1 or 10 against 1, but only if deliberation has surpassed a reasonable time ( usually 8 hours ), so this allows for a fairer system.

Being such a fundamental part of the adversarial system, if a jury is unable to make a verdict, it becomes a hung jury in which the case is dismissed and a retrial is ordered therefore ensuring that there is an equal opportunity for each party to present their side of the case and know that an impartial judgement will be made. Overall, since the right to a fair trial is significant in the adversary system, the juries are a pivotal reason as to how natural justice is achieved. 2. Discuss the role of juries in the criminal justice system?

Juries are considered to encompass a fundamental role of the criminal justice system, however , there are setbacks regarding their role in determining whether the accused is guilty or innocent. Juries are a representation of public confidence, as the right to be tried by peers has people confident that their impartiality and fairness does improve access to justice. Impartiality of the jury is supported by the process of random selection which usually result in a cross-section of society, therefore prejudices are cancelled out with one another.

Unanimous decisions are a main reason why most prejudice and bias is eliminated from procedural fairness because all jurors should not have doubt as to whether the accused is guilty or not- all must agree. Despite this, unanimous decisions don’t necessarily support access to justice as jurors don’t have to justify their reasons as to why they believe the accused is guilty or not.

There is no way of knowing whether the jury based their decision on the evidence presented to them or whether their biased motives trumped their role in acknowledging that an impartial judgement has to be made based on what is only presented in court. Juries are not allowed to make decisions based on other influences like media influences or racial bias. Although the judge instructs the jury throughout the criminal trial process, it is hard to determine whether the jury really understands the legal jargon and the case in general and what has been reinforced in court so overall, the role of juries in the criminal justice system has its advantages and disadvantages.

LAW REFORM of juries In 2006 the NSW parliament amended the Jury Act 1977 NSW with the Jury Amendment ( Verdicts ) Act 2006 NSW which allows for majority verdicts of 11 to 1 or 10 to 1 only if reasonable time od deliberation was taken. This does not apply to commonwealth offences as unanimous decisions are protected under section 80 of the constitution. REASON FOR LAW REFORM:

Reports of ‘rogue jurors’ unreasonably derailing long and complex trials and these cases generate questions in the community about the effectiveness and fairness of the justice system. Presently long delays for matters proceeding to trial in the NSW District and Supreme Courts The shift to majority verdicts came after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Bruce Burwell had kidnapped and murdered Sydney woman Kerry Wheland. The jury sat through 10 wks of evidence before deliverbating for 2 weeks could not agree FORCING A RETRIAL.