The jury system is a legal system for determining the facts at issue in a criminal law suit. In Jamaica the government and court system affects the jury system immensely. As said by former minister of justice and security, Mr. K. D. Knight, in a gleaner article published Wednesday February 21, 2011, there is no intention to abolish the jury system, with that said the jury system can only be reformed. In the issue of the gleaner published on 6 July, 2013 the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said: ‘the Government must move quickly to fix the jury system as a shortage of persons to serve as jurors is a major contributor to the low case disposal rate in the nation’s courts.
’ The DPP also recommended that the daily payment to persons serving as jurors be increased. The jury system needs to be reformed because of the following reasons: The jury system can be bias, jurors are not showing up to perform their civic duty and the jury system is too cumbersome and slow which makes it expensive to maintain. There are several solutions to these problems; these solutions were developed by the ministry of justice in a meeting about improving the jury system.
Some of the solutions are: Working in tandem with the Court Management Service to develop a campaign to encourage citizens to perform their critical civic duty – jury service, lobbying the ministry of finance for an increase of the daily stipend paid to persons who perform their jury duty, review the list of people who are exempt from jury duty among others. This topic was selected so the researcher could gather information on the topic at hand and the researcher hopes to find proper solutions to the problems plagued by the jury system. 1 Aims •Critically asses the court and jury system in the island of Jamaica.
•Come to a conclusion on whether the jury system should be abolished or reformed. Objectives •To determine whether the jury reaches perverse decisions after deliberation. •To explore whether there is a perception of bias by members of the public in relation to the jury and how this affects the ability of the courts to effectively serve justice. •To make recommendations in relation to whether the jury system should be reformed. Methodology 2 Information for this research paper was obtained from newspaper articles and questionnaires. On 11th and 18th of January 2014 the researcher visited the Kingston.
National library. On the 30th January, 2014 at 9AM – 10AM 50 questionnaires were issued to students, teachers and other Jamaican citizens at the university of the West Indies Mona campus. Upon collecting the questionnaires the researcher went home and tallied the statistics. On the same day the questionnaires were issued out the researcher went to the Norman Manley law school library to get further information on her topic at hand. Questionnaire 3 1Gender F? M? 2Age Group: 18-25 ? 26-50 ? 51-OVER? 3Profession Student? Lawyer? Other (please specify) ? 4Do you know what the jury system is?
Yes? No? 5Have you ever been summoned to serve jury duty? Yes? No? 4a. If no what was your reason? Profession? Other? 6Is the jury system biased? Yes? No? 7Is the court system of Jamaica reliable? Yes? No? 8Have you ever experience a court case, whether in person or via mass media? Yes? No? 9Should the jury system be reformed? Yes? No? 10 Would you like to be a juror? Yes? No? 11 Are you on the voters list? Yes? No? 12 Does the government affect the jury system? Yes? No? Presentation of Data Figure 1. This pie chart depicts the age groups participants of the survey fall under.
The percentage of people who are in the age group 18-25 is 40%. The percentage of people who are in the age group 26-50 is 50%. The percentage of people who are in the age group 51+ is 10%. 4 Figure 2. This doughnut illustrates the profession of participants in the survey. 30% of the participants are students. 40% are lawyers. 30% of the participants were neither students nor lawyers. 5 Figure 3. This bar graph shows whether participants in the survey were ever summoned to jury duty. 30% of the participants have been summoned to jury duty. The other 70% were not summoned to jury duty. Figure 4.
This doughnut depicts why participants were not summoned to jury duty. 71% of participants said their profession was the cause. 29% of participants said other circumstances were the cause. 6 Figure 5. This pie chart illustrates the response of the participants to whether the jury system in Jamaica is biased or not. 90% of the participants said yes the jury system is biased. The other 10% said no the jury system is not biased. Figure 6. This bar graph shows the responses of the participants to whether they think the Jamaican jury system is reliable or not. 90% of participants said the court system is not reliable. 10% agreed that the court system is reliable.
7 Figure 8. This is a pie chart illustrates the number of participants who said the jury system should be reformed. 90% of participants said yes it should be reformed. The other 10% said it should not. 8 Figure 9. This is a line graph shows the results to whether the participants are on the voters list or not. 70% of the participants are currently not on the voters list. The other 30% are on the voters list. Discussion of findings In the research done 48% of the participants are females and 52% are males.
All the participants of the survey are 18 years old or over (See Figure1) so this means they are eligible to be a juror but only 30% were ever summoned to serve jury duty. (See Figure 4) The other 70% who were never summoned to jury duty were either lawyers or professors or not on the voters list. They were never summoned to jury duty because lawyers and professors are not eligible to be jurors. Persons who are not on the voters list are not eligible to be a juror either. 40% of the participants are lawyers, 30% are students and 30% are either retired or professors.
This means all the participants are educated on the jury system. 9 In the survey conducted all the participants have experienced a court case whether in person or via mass media. 10% of the participants say the court system in Jamaica is not biased. The same 10% also say the court system is reliable and it does not need to be reformed. While the other 90% say the court system is biased and it needs to be reformed. They also share the same view that it is not reliable. (See Figure 5) Out of the 90% who say the court system should be reformed and it is not reliable 44% are lawyers. The other 56% are retired, professors or students.
The 10% who say it is reliable and does not need to be reformed are students. When asked if they would like to be a juror 50% said yes and the other 50% said no. Among the 50% who want to be a juror 40% are not on the voters list. Also among the 50% who said they would not like to be a juror 60% are on the voters list. Also among the 50% who want to be jurors 20% of them are lawyers. These lawyers cannot be a part of the jury because they are among the list of people who cannot be a juror. In an article titled ‘DPP: The Government Must Improve the Jury System Quickly’
published by the gleaner July 6, 2013 it stated that the government owes approximately 8 million dollars to 1,725 jurors and a $500 allowance is paid to jurors each day. In the same article the office of the DPP recommended the daily payment to jurors should be paid. In an article ‘The Jury System is Essential’, published July 4, 2013 in the gleaner, the author states the jury system is an essential part of the rule of law. However the author went on to say in Jamaica where everyone is corrupt is it practical for a jury to decide in such serious matters?
The author also went on to say that he/she is not saying the jury system is ineffective/useless. This statement shows that the jury system just needs improvement or needs to be reformed. In a press release it stated that the ministry of justice had a discussion about the problems plaguing the jury system. The results from this meeting were: reviewing the categories of persons who are exempt from jury duty, review the current statutory arrangements in relation to jury trials – determine whether the range of offenses which are tried by jury should be reduced, persuade the ministry of finance for an increase to the daily stipend paid to persons who do their jury duty and 10 working together with the CSM to develop a campaign which encourage citizens to perform their civic duty.
If the reviewing of the categories of people who are exempt from jury duty say lawyers are no longer exempt from jury duty, the 20% from the researchers survey can become a juror. Recommendation The jury system in Jamaica is a growing problem. This is because people are shying away from jury duty because the government is not promptly paying jurors.
As said in an article published Saturday July 6, 2013, the government owes nearly 8 million dollars to 1,725 jurors. Since former minister of National Security and Justice, Mr. K D Knight said there in no intention to abolish the jury system that means it can only be reformed. •The Jury should be abolished in cases involving sexual offences. This recommendation has been made because the trials conducted by the jury can often 11 result in a miscarriage of justice. In addition to this some of the decisions made by the jury are run counter to the evidence presented by the court as what happened in the Jamaican trial involving renowned international Pastor Paul Lewis.
•The judge should be given the power by legislation to substitute a perverse decision given by the jury. This recommendation has been made because even though evidence has been thrown out jurors sometimes use the evidence against the defendant as seen in the trial or Adidja Palmer. Bibliography http://jamaica-gleaner. com/latest/article. php? id=46271 http://jamaica-gleaner. com/gleaner/20010221/cleisure/cleisure1. html http://jamaica-gleaner. com/gleaner/20130704/letters/letters6. html http://go-jamaica. com/pressrelease/item. php? id=488 12.