'It is simply unrealistic to think that juries are capable of dealing with long and complex fraud trials. ' What is the function of Jury? Jury has been variously described as the safeguard of liberty; an essential check upon unpopular laws; the best means for establishing truth. Equally enthusiastically, opponents complain that the jury has never provided any protection against oppressive government; it sometimes shows a willful disregard for the law; it lacks practical expertise; and it introduces as much prejudice as good sense into its decisions.
Currently in most criminal cases the charge is first considered by a grand jury with between 12 and 23 members. Pros and Cons about Jury The strengths or weaknesses of the jury system are very much a matter of perception. Forming an objective view upon the competence of laypersons to understand and apply legal principles appropriately is made more difficult by the existence of s8 Contempt of Court Act 1981 which prohibits any research into jury deliberations.
On that basis there is no way of discovering precisely why jurors have reached the verdict they have in a specific case or whether they have understood the legal issues and applied the law as directed by the judge. The value of juries in civil trials is disputed in the UK. Opponents of juries argue that they are ineffective, irrational and cause delay; proponents argue that juries bring community standards to bear, can moderate the effects of harsh laws, and are a protection against incompetent judges.
Although the use of juries is declining for various reasons, common-law countries have a clear symbolic regard for the jury and show great care in the selection of jurors. Trying to remove Jury in long and complex Fraud Trials In recent years in the UK there has been intense debate as to the future of the jury in criminal trials. The British government has been charged with attempting to remove the right to jury trial by its various attempts to decrease the defendant's right to determine the mode of trial.
The Criminal Justice Bill No 1 1999 have removed the need for the accused to consent to be tried summarily when charged with an "either way" offence. The bill was not enacted. The government tried again with the Criminal Justice Bill No 2 2000. But again this was not enacted. In addition, the Act made provision for applications by the prosecution for certain fraud cases to be conducted without a jury (s. 43) and also some cases where there is danger of jury tampering (s. 44). Under s.
43, in cases of serious or complex fraud, the prosecution may apply to a judge of the Crown Court for the trial to be conducted without a jury. If the judge is satisfied that the complexity or length of the trial (or both) are likely to make the trial too burdensome to the members of a jury, he or she may decide that, in the interests of justice, the trial should be conducted without a jury. In deciding this, the judge should take into account any steps that could reduce the complexity or length of the trial.
If he or she does so decide, then the Lord Chief Justice or such judge nominated by him must approve the decision. In the case of jury tampering, there would have to be a substantial likelihood of tampering taking place to make it necessary in the interests of justice for the trial to be conducted without a jury. Considerable reservations exist as to the ability of juries to deal with prosecutions involving complicated allegations of fraud.
"Special juries" made up of persons experienced in dealing with commercial or financial matters were abolished by s18 Juries Act 1949. In more recent times, the emphasis has been on providing for pre-trial hearings before a judge to identify the contentious issues in complicated cases, in equipping courts with new technology to make the visual display of documents on video screens a possibility, and permitting the use of glossaries and the reception of complex or technical evidence in a simplified form.