The system of law that Australia is currently using has been the same on an elementary level for hundreds of years. However, as society progresses and evolves, as has our law, and this is to ensure that it does not get to out to date. At time, some might criticize this, as they may feel that it is a sign of society going down hill, however change is necessary in human life. The one area of law that has not evolved is the Jury System. From the very beginning of law, we have seen that Juries have been used, and they still our today.
However, the laws that are in use today, are far more complex than any laws that would have been used when it was created, and hence it is becoming increasingly difficult for 12 amateurs to understand. Some say that, we should have a Judge, and that is all someone who would not lack judgment and expertise, someone who fully understands the law. This debate is a continuing one and each side has its negatives and positives. Juries are intended as a way to reflect the will of the community, as distinct from a single judge, who is often seen as heartless, or to "down the line".
By selecting 12 random people (or 6 if the case is civil), it is believed that the court will get a good spectrum of the peoples wants and feelings, and hence the right decision will be made in that society. However, it is fair to say that in many cases, this will not reflect the will of the wider community at all, this is due to the fact that, people who are called in for Jury Duty sometimes do not want to be there, and this may cripple their ability to listen, and comprehend what is going on in court, and it may cause them to give a verdict, just for the sake of ending the trial.
Secondly, these people lack a complete understanding of Court and Law workings, and hence, they are unable to make an educated decision. When we are talking about the fate of people, how many of them would like to put themselves in the hands of 12 or 6 unwilling members of the community that are uninterested and don't really care. Judges are paid to be concentrating, understanding and knowledgeable about the working of the legal system, they are able to make decision on matter, and can see past peoples pretending and bending of the truth to make an educated verdict.
Unlike a Jury, a judge is able to reach a verdict, based on his prior experience in court, and is able to compare scenarios, whereas in a system of Juries, for most of those people it is their first and last time to do Jury Duty, and hence they will massively lack experience. Also, most important of all in a world like ours, is that the Judge is getting paid to be there, it is his lively-hood, and because of this, he will treat it with a lot more respect and seriousness than people who are called up for Jury Duty.
Also, as the judge is the only person that is making the verdict, he will not be swayed at all, unless he is approached by members of people in court, which is illegal. However, the problem that people say is with judges, is the fact that they are cold, not understanding, and are to black and white, to be able to make a decision that is humane, and that is where the Judge system falls down.
With law, it must be black and white, in order for it to function properly, and because of that, a single person, the Judge has to use that as his guide, and keep strictly to it, in a system of Juries, however, due to the fact that it is their single case, they will be placed in a position where they can relate and understand people actions more easily, and hence may reflect the view better.
The question that we must ask is, does the fact that Juries are more humane and understanding make it better. If our society works on a system of Juries, where many people, who should really be kept away from society for doing things that are seen to degrade it, remain free, on the grounds of the Jury feeling sorry for the person, and sympathizing them, is that a better thing?
, and does their lack of understanding give them any right, to decide the fate of another person, when their final verdict, may well be incorrect, for example, when a case begin to get extremely complex, and drags on for weeks, the Juries will quickly become dissatisfied and wanting an end to the trial, this is due to the fact they want to be elsewhere, however, to a Judge, it would be normal, and his patience would remain there. The Jury may make a rushed, little thought about decision in order to quickly end the trial, and the verdict, may be one that is incorrect, and crippling to the guilty party, or supposedly guilty party.
Also, how true is the perception that Judges are unable to be humane and understanding, this may be a common misconception that may have arisen from a minority of cases. I feel that perhaps we can exist with both, Juries could be in a civil court, and Judges in criminal, at least in this situation the Juries would not be in a position where they could control almost the life and death, of a person. Personally, I feel that the best system to use for both Criminal and Civil would be the system of Judges.
This is primarily because I don't feel that the cases that go to court are matter that are to be dealt with by the common person, I feel that they should be dealt with by an educated, knowledgeable person, who's livelihood is based around prosecuting people, and who is continuously under scrutiny. I feel that Judges are not so much "cold hearted" as they are often accused of being, but more that they are more able to see and understand better, what people are doing and have done, and can reach a more educated verdict.
Personally, I would not like to be in the hands of someone that does not really want to be there and get found guilty for something I was complete innocent of. I think that on an individual basis, if one was given the right to choose between a Judge or a Jury, those that are guilty, would move for a Jury, in the chance that they may get off due to the Juries potential incorrect verdict. And if I was innocent, I would want a judge, for two reasons.
The first being that I wouldn't want to have any chance of being found guilty simply because the Jury can't be bothered. Secondly because I personally would have more faith in someone who has the experience. Either way, it is important to say that neither of these systems are flawless, and even with a change, many would be dissatisfied, so perhaps we should look for another solution, but until we find one, this debate will continue.