To what extend to you consider that restriction of the availability of trial by Jury would be necessary and justifiable reform of the justice system? Trial by jury has existed for more than six hundred years, since Magna Carta, in 1215, however there has been no clear attitude towards the principle of trial by jury in the English or American constitutional law. Juries in criminal cases and others are expected to judge what the facts are, what the law is, and what the moral intent of the accused was. However there have been arguments to suggest that there should be a restriction of trial by jury.
Many believe that that there should be a restriction of trial by jury, as they don't have the knowledge or experience to decide a defendant's fate. They are not trained to analyse and examine evidence presented to them, whereas a judge may be more suitable to constitute an informed decision due to his/her qualifications and experienced knowledge of the legal processes. Therefore the reform to the justice system would be justifiable as the law would be passed through a more knowledgeable member of society. The renowned trial of O. J Simpson is a lucid example of how trial by jury may not be an efficient method within the judicial system.
The defence attorney stated, "A case this complex, to come to such a quick verdict has to mean they threw the prosecution case out. It sounds like there were no deliberations. " In terms of the initial argument, the jury were an unreliable attribute for certain cases, and it seems unjust for a criminal to be set free based on the decision of 12 unqualified people. On the other hand trial by jury appears to be a fair system as 12 ordinary and random members of society are chosen to carry out their duties.
The jury may not be as experienced or knowledgeable as a judge, but they do have the opportunity to analyse the evidencepresented to them in an extensive manner, as they are given the opportunity to discuss the case and express their views, thus allowing them to examine all points of view and deliver a judgement that they feel is correct and just. However we need to consider that the jury may not always deliver the correct judgement as they are likely to be bias towards the case presented to them.
For example, in the Simpson trial, one of the jurors was an African-American therefore may be bias due to ethnic similarities. There is no clear indication or information presented to the public regarding the background of the 12 members of the jury,and their views may not represent what the law regards as right or wrong.
Therefore they are likely pass a judgement that reflects their moral, perhaps bias views. For instance, if a member of the jury has previously broken the law, he/she is more likely to be lenient with the verdict as they perceive the situation from a liberal perception. Although some argue that as the system randomly selects 12 members of society it is not likely that the jury would be bias towards the case as there is no reason why the jury would have any personal interest in a case that they had no knowledge of prior to the day they appear in court.
"The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts. " (Samuel Chase) However over the decades there has been a considerable change in the coverage of certain high profile cases in the media. The media seems to be more involved in cases and choose to cover them intensively even prior to the court date. Therefore they are likely to influence the members of the jury and tamper with the outcome of a case by criminalizing the defendant. To exemplify, over the past few years the media has created a moral panic and there has been a change in attitude towards paedophiles.
Therefore in this case it may be guilty until proven innocent rather that innocent until proven guilty. On the contrast, trial by jury has been considered a positive method of involving common members of society in the law system; therefore they are seen as an important source of the legal system. Trial by jury is seen as barrier against the tyranny and oppression from the government and is a way of expressing their liberties. "The trial by jury," then, is a "trial by the country"-that is, by the people- as distinguished from a trial by the government. However there are many risks to be considered when using trail byjury.
During a high profile case the jury are likely to be in danger from the out side world. There is a chance that many people will not be happy about the outcome of a case and will try to pressurise members of the jury to change their verdict, this not only places their lives in danger, but also the lives of their families. Therefore there should be a restriction to the availability of trial by jury. Furthermore the jury may be sequestered from the out side world and are not authorized to discuss the case before and during the trial. Therefore this may disrupt their personal lives or even their careers.
In addition they are not permitted to refuse being a member of the jury, impeding their rights as citizens as they are predisposed participating in a trail against their wills. Additionally the majority vote wins, disregarding the individual perceptions of each juror, therefore not all members of the jury agree on the verdict imposed on a defendant. There are also further complications in the use of trial by jury such as the risk of conformity. Majority members of the jury may influence the decision of the minority members, instigating matters of conformity rather than centring on the case itself and disregarding judicial issues.
Furthermore there is a gender difference issue that needs to be considered, as there isn't always six male and six female members of the jury. Therefore the minority gender is likely to be pressurised into making a decision that they don't regard as just. In conclusion the members of the jury face many risks and in certain cases their lives may be in danger, or they don't wish to be a part of a jury but it is enforced on them by the government. In addition they are less likely to fully participate in the case as they are not interested in the issues that arise. Therefore there should be a restriction of the availability of trail by jury.
However I don't perceive it as a necessary and justifiable reform of the justice system. Trial by jury has been in practice for hundreds of years, and the system has been successful, therefore I don't comprehend that it is a necessary reform. The jury have an obligation to examine the evidence that is presented to them and should give a verdict that is just according to the law. "… it is their light, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such law.