Jury: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For "jury" meaning "coroner's jury," see inquest. For other uses, see jury (disambiguation).
An empty jury box in a US courtroom

A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to judge whether an accused person is not guilty or guilty of a crime. (There is no such verdict as 'innocent').

A person who is serving on a jury is a juror.

The old institution of Grand Juries, which are now rare, still exist in some places, particularly the United States, to investigate whether enough evidence of a crime exists to bring someone to trial.

The jury system has evolved out of the earliest juries, which were found in early medieval England. Members were supposed to inform themselves of crimes and then of the details of the crimes. Their function was therefore closer to that of a grand jury than that of a jury in a court.



The word jur originates from the Latin jus (gen. juris), meaning "law". Juries are most common in common law adversarial-system jurisdictions. In the modern system, juries act as triers of fact, while judges act as triers of law. A trial without a jury (in which both questions of fact and questions of law are decided by a judge) is known as a bench trial.

Types of jury

The petit jury (or trial jury) hears the evidence in a trial as presented by both the plaintiff (petitioner) and the defendant (respondent). After hearing the evidence and often jury instructions from the judge, the group retires for deliberation, to consider a verdict. The majority required for a verdict varies. In some cases it must be unanimous, while in other jurisdictions it may be a majority or supermajority. A jury that is unable to come to a verdict is referred to as a hung jury. The size of the jury varies; in criminal cases there are usually 12 jurors, although Scotland uses 15. In civil cases many trials require only six.

A grand jury, a type of jury now confined almost exclusively to some jurisdictions in the United States, determines whether there is enough evidence for a criminal trial to go forward. Grand juries carry out this duty by examining evidence presented to them by a prosecutor and issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments. A grand jury is traditionally larger than and distinguishable from the petit jury used during a trial, with at least 12 jurors. A grand jury does not require a suspect be notified of the proceedings, and grand juries can be used for filing charges, as a sealed indictment, against unaware suspects to be arrested later, by a surprise police visit, in their daily lives.

Composition of juries

Serving on a jury is normally compulsory for those individuals who are qualified for jury service. Since a jury is intended to be an impartial panel capable of reaching a verdict, there are often procedures and requirements, for instance, fluent understanding of the language, or the ability to test jurors or otherwise exclude jurors who might be perceived as less than neutral or more partial to hear one side or the other. Juries are initially chosen randomly from the eligible population residing in the court's jurisdictional area (unless a change of venue has occurred). Jury selection varies widely; in the United States, some form of organized questioning of the prospective jurors (jury pool) occurs—voir dire—before the jury is selected (impaneled).

A head juror is called the foreman or presiding juror. The foreman is often chosen before the trial begins or upon the beginning of deliberations. The role of the foreman is to ask questions on behalf of the jury, facilitate jury discussions, and sometimes to read the verdict of the jury. Since there is always the possibility of jurors not completing the trial for health or other reasons, often one or more alternate jurors are nominated. Alternates hear the trial but do not take part in deciding the verdict unless a juror is unable to deliberate.

Historical roots

The Jury an 1861 painting of a British jury

The modern jury evolved out of the ancient custom of many ancient Germanic tribes whereby a group of men of good character was used to investigate crimes and/or judge the accused. The same custom evolved into the vehmic court system in medieval Germany. In Anglo-Saxon England, juries investigated crimes. After the Norman Conquest, some parts of the country preserved juries as the means of investigating crimes. The use of ordinary members of the community to consider crimes was unusual in ancient cultures, but was nonetheless also found in ancient Greece.

The modern jury trial evolved out of this custom in the mid 12th century during the reign of Henry II. [1] Juries, usually 6 or 12 men, were an "ancient institution" in some parts of England. ("Henry II" 286) Members consisted of representatives of the basic units of local government—hundreds (an administrative sub-division of the shire, embracing several vills) and villages. Called juries of presentment, these men testified under oath to crimes committed in their neighborhood and indicted. The Assize of Clarendon in 1166 caused these juries to be adopted systematically throughout the country. The jury in this period was "self-informing," meaning it heard very little evidence or testimony in court. Instead, jurors were recruited from the locality of the dispute and were expected to know the facts before coming to court. The source of juror knowledge could include first-hand knowledge, investigation, and less reliable sources such as rumor and hearsay.[2]

Between 1166 and 1179 new procedures including a division of functions between the sheriff, the jury of local men, and the royal justices ushered in the era of the English Common Law. Sheriffs prepared cases for trial and found jurors with relevant knowledge and testimony. Jurors 'found' a verdict by witnessing as to fact, even assessing and apply information from their own and community memory — little was written at this time and what was: deeds, writs, were subject to fraud. Royal justices supervised trials, answered questions as to law and announced the court's decision which was subject to appeal. Sheriffs executed the decision. These procedures enabled Henry II to delegate authority without endowing his subordinates with too much power. ("Henry II" 293)

In 1215 the Roman Catholic Church removed its sanction from all forms of ordeal — procedures by which suspects were 'tested' as to guilt (e.g., the ordeal of hot metal was applied to a suspected thief by pouring molten metal into his hand, if the wound healed rapidly and well it was believed God found the suspect innocent, if not than guilty). With the ordeals banned establishing guilt would have been problematic had England not had forty years of judicial experience. Justices were accustomed to asking jurors of presentament about points of fact in assessing indictments; it was a short step to ask jurors if the accused was guilty as charged. ("Henry II" 358)

An early reference to a jury type group in England is in a decree issued by Aethelred at Wantage (997), which enacted that in every Hundred "the twelve leading thegns together with the reeve shall go out and swear on the relics which are given into their hands, that they will not accuse any innocent man nor shield a guilty one."[3] The resulting Wantage Code code formally recognized legal customs that were part of the Danelaw.[4]

The testimonial concept can also be traced to Normandy before 1066, when a jury of nobles was established to decide land disputes. In this manner, the Duke, being the largest land owner, could not act as a judge in his own case.[5]

One of the earliest antecedents of modern jury systems are juries in ancient Greece, including the city-state of Athens, where records of jury courts date back to 500 BCE. These voted by secret ballot and were eventually granted the power to annul unconstitutional laws, thus introducing judicial review. In modern systems, law is "self-contained" and "distinct from other coercive forces, and perceived as separate from the political life of the community," but "all these barriers are absent in the context of classical Athens. In practice and in conception the law and its administration are in some important respects indistinguishable from the life of the community in general."[6]

18th Century England

In 1730, the British Parliament passed the Bill for Better Regulation of Juries.[7] The Act stipulated that the list of all those liable for jury service was to be posted in each parish and that jury panels would be selected by lot, also known as sortition, from these lists. Its aim was to prevent middle-class citizens from evading their responsibilities by bribing the under-sheriff whose job was to select jury members.

Prior to the Act, the main means of ensuring impartiality was by allowing legal challenges to the sheriff’s choices. The new provisions did not specifically aim at establishing impartiality had the effect of reinforcing the authority of the jury by guaranteeing impartiality at the point of selection.

The example of early 18th century England legal reform shows how civic lotteries can be used to organize the duties and responsibilities of the citizen body in relation to the state. It established the impartiality and neutrality of juries as well as reiterating the dual nature of the citizen-state relationship.

Trial jury size

About 50 prospective jurors awaiting jury selection

The size of the jury is to provide a "cross-section" of the public. In Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78 (1970), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a Florida state jury of six was sufficient, and that "the 12-man panel is not a necessary ingredient of "trial by jury," and that respondent's refusal to impanel more than the six members provided for by Florida law did not violate petitioner's Sixth Amendment rights as applied to the States through the Fourteenth."

In Brownlee v The Queen (2001) 207 CLR 278, the High Court of Australia unanimously held that a jury of 12 members was not an essential feature of "trial by jury" in section 80 of the Australian Constitution.

In Scotland, a jury in a criminal trial consists of 15 jurors, which is thought to be the largest in the world. In 2009 a review by the Scottish Government regarding the possibility of reduction, [8] led to the decision to retain 15 jurors, with the Secretary for Justice stating that after extensive consultation, he had decided that Scotland had got it "uniquely right".[9]

For juries to fulfill their role to analyze the facts of the case, there are strict rules about their use of information during the trial. Juries are often instructed to avoid learning about the case from any source other than the trial (such as from media accounts) and to not attempt to conduct their own investigations (such as independently visiting a crime scene). Parties, lawyers, and witnesses are not allowed to speak with a member of the jury. Doing these things may constitute reversible error. In very rare, high-profile cases, juries may be sequestered for the deliberation phase or for the entire trial.

Conversely, jurors are generally required to keep their deliberations in strict confidence during the trial and deliberations, and in some jurisdictions even after a verdict is rendered. In English law, the jury's deliberations must never be disclosed outside the jury, even years after the case; to repeat parts of the trial or verdict, is considered to be contempt of court, a criminal offence. In the United States, this rule usually does not apply, and sometimes jurors have made remarks that called into question whether a verdict was properly arrived at. In Australia, academics are permitted to scrutinize the jury process only after obtaining a certificate or approval from the Attorney-General.

Because of the desire to prevent undue influence on a jury, jury tampering (like witness tampering) is a serious crime, whether attempted through bribery, threat of violence, or other means. Jurors themselves can also be held liable if they deliberately compromise their impartiality.


The role of the jury is seemingly accurate to a finder of fact, while the judge is seen as having the sole responsibility of interpreting the appropriate law and instructing the jury accordingly. The jury will render a verdict on the defendant's guilt, or civil liability.

Occasionally, if jurors find the law to be invalid or unfair, they may acquit the defendant, regardless of the evidence that the defendant violated the law. This is commonly referred to as jury nullification. When there is no jury ("bench trial"), the judge makes rulings on both questions of law and of fact. In most continental European jurisdictions, the judges have more power in a trial and the role and powers of a jury are often restricted. Actual jury law and trial procedures differ between countries.

In the United States, juries are also entitled to make factual findings on particular aggravating circumstances which will be used to elevate the defendant's sentence, if the defendant is convicted. This practice was required in all death penalty cases in Blakely v. Washington, where the Supreme Court ruled that allowing judges to make such findings unilaterally violates the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. A similar Sixth-Amendment argument in Apprendi v. New Jersey expanded the requirement to all cases, holding that "any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt".

In Canada, juries are also allowed to make suggestions for sentencing periods and at the time of sentencing, the suggestions of the jury are presented before the judge by the Crown prosecutor(s) before the sentence is handed down.

However, this is not the practice in most other legal systems based on the English tradition, in which judges retain sole responsibility for deciding sentences according to law. The exception is the award of damages in English law libel cases, although a judge is now obliged to make a recommendation to the jury as to the appropriate amount.

Jury nullification

Jury nullification means making a law void by jury decision, in other words "the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her."[10]

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were a series of cases starting in 1670 with the trial of the Quaker William Penn which asserted the (de facto) right of a jury to pass a verdict contrary to the facts or law. A good example is the case of one Carnegie of Finhaven who in 1728 accidentally killed the Scottish Earl of Strathmore. As the defendant had undoubtedly killed the Earl, the law (as it stood) required the jury to pass the verdict that the case had been "proven" and cause Carnegie of Finhaven to die for an accidental killing. Instead the jury asserted what it believed to be their "ancient right" to judge the whole case and not just the facts and brought in the verdict of "not guilty". This led to the development of the not proven verdict in Scots law.

Today in the United States, juries are instructed by the judge to follow his or her instructions concerning what is the "law", in his or her opinion, and to render a verdict solely on the evidence presented in court. If it reaches a conclusion contrary to those instructions, but based on its own beliefs as to what the law is, whether it has been properly applied, or whether it should be the law, this is known as jury nullification. It finds its most common expression when verdicts are rendered based on passion, prejudice, sympathy or bias. It has been asserted that the jury has the power to "nullify" a law it believes is unjust, by, for example, refusing to find the defendant guilty, in spite of the evidence, if it believes that a guilty verdict would be unjust. Important past exercises of this de facto power include cases involving slavery (see Fugitive Slave Act of 1850), freedom of the press (see John Peter Zenger), and freedom of religion (see William Penn).

In 1969 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled: "If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the right to acquit, and the courts must abide that decision." The Fully Informed Jury Association is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to informing jurors of their rights and seeks laws to force judges to inform jurors that they can and should judge the law. In a still standing decision (Sparf v. United States, 1895) the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws.

Modern American jurisprudence is generally intolerant of the practice, and a juror can be removed from a case if the judge believes that the juror is aware of the power of nullification[11].

Jury equity

In the United Kingdom, a similar power exists, often called "jury equity". This enables a jury to reach a decision in direct contradiction with the law if they feel the law is unjust. This can create a persuasive precedent for future cases, or render prosecutors reluctant to bring a charge – thus a jury has the power to influence the law.

Perhaps the best example of modern-day jury equity in England and Wales was the acquittal of Clive Ponting, on a charge of revealing secret information, under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 in 1985. Mr Ponting's defence was that the revelation was in the public interest. The trial judge directed the jury that "the public interest is what the government of the day says it is" – effectively a direction to the jury to convict. Nevertheless, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Another example is the acquittal in 1989 of Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, who confessed in open court to charges of springing the Soviet spy George Blake from Wormwood Scrubs Prison and smuggling him to East Germany in 1966. Pottle successfully appealed to the jury to disregard the judge's instruction that they consider only whether the defendants were guilty in law, and assert a jury's ancient right to throw out a politically-motivated prosecution, in this case compounded by its cynical untimeliness.[12]

In Scotland (with a separate legal system from that of England and Wales) although technically the "not guilty" verdict was originally a form of jury nullification, over time the interpretation has changed so that now the "not guilty" verdict has become the normal one when a jury is not persuaded of guilt and the "not proven" verdict is only used when the jury is not certain of innocence or guilt.[13] It is absolutely central to Scottish and English law that there is a presumption of innocence. It is not a trivial distinction since any shift in the burden of proof is a significant change which undermines the safeguard for the citizen.[14]

Non-trial juries

A wine jury

Besides petit juries for jury trials and grand juries for issuing indictments, juries are sometimes used in non-legal or quasi-legal contexts. Blue ribbon juries attend to civic matters as an ad-hoc body in the executive branch of a government. Outside government, a jury or panel of judges may make determinations in competition, such as at a wine tasting, art exhibition, or talent contest. These types of contests are juried competitions.

Blue ribbon juries are juries selected from prominent, well-educated citizens, sometimes to investigate a particular problem such as civic corruption. Blue ribbon juries cannot be used in real trials, which require constitutional safeguards to produce a jury of one's peers. The blue-ribbon jury is intended to overcome the problems of ordinary juries in interpreting complex technical or commercial questions. In the United States blue-ribbon juries were provided for by statutes, the terms varying by jurisdiction.

In the reality television show Survivor, after the tenth contestant is eliminated from the game, the remaining contestants, except for the two or three finalists, make up the "jury". They decide by voting who wins the game and the prize money.

Trial procedures


The Constitution of Australia provides in section 80 that 'the trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury'. It has been held accordingly that the Commonwealth can determine which offences are 'on indictment': Cheng v The Queen (2000) 203 CLR 248 (McHugh and Callinan JJ, Kirby J dissenting). This interpretation has been criticised a 'mockery' of the section, rendering it useless: R v Federal Court of Bankruptcy; Ex parte Lowenstein (1939) 59 CLR 556 (Dixon and Evatt JJ dissenting). It was held that a unanimous verdict was (historically) and is (in principle) an essential element of trial by jury: Cheatle v The Queen (1993) 177 CLR 541 (per curiam).


The Belgian Constitution provides that all cases involving the most serious crimes be judged by juries. As a safeguard against libel cases, press crimes can also only be tried by jury. Racism is excluded from this safeguard.

Twelve jurors decide by majority whether the defendant is guilty or not. A tied vote results in 'not guilty'; a '7 guilty - 5 not guilty' vote is transferred to the 3 professional judges who can, by unanimity, reverse the majority to 'not guilty'. The sentence is delivered by a majority of the 12 jurors and the 3 professional judges.

Juries do not give reasons, which is a breach of article 6 ECHR (case of Taxquet v Belgium , 13-01-2009 [1])


The Constitution of Brazil provides that all cases of first-degree murder, abortion, infanticide and suicide instigation be judged by juries, but there are cases that are judged by judges even in cases of first degree murder. These are the only crimes judged by juries in Brazil. Seven jurors vote in secret to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not, and decisions are taken by majority.


In Canada, juries are used for some criminal trials but not others. For summary conviction offences[15] or offences found under section 553 of the Criminal Code of Canada the trial is before a judge alone. For most indictable offences, the accused person can elect to be tried by either a judge alone or a judge and jury.[16] In the most serious offences, found in section 469 of the Criminal Code of Canada (such as murder or treason), a judge and a jury are always used, unless both the accused and the prosecutor agree that the trial should not be in front of a jury.[17] The jury's verdict on the ultimate disposition of guilt or innocence must be unanimous,[18] but can disagree on the evidentary route that leads to that disposition.[19][20]

Juries do not make a recommendation as to the length of sentence, except for parole ineligibility for second-degree murder (but the judge is not bound by the jury's recommendation, and the jury is not required to make a recommendation).[18]

Jury selection is in accordance with specific criteria. Prospective jurors may only be asked certain questions, selected for direct pertinence to impartiality or other relevant matters. Any other questions must be approved by the judge.

A jury in a criminal trial is initially composed of 12 jurors. There are no substitute jurors. Instead, if a juror is discharged during the course of the trial, the trial will continue unless the number of jurors goes below 10.[18]

The Canadian constitution guarantees that anyone tried for an offence that has a maximum sentence of five or more years has the right to be tried by a jury (except for an offence under military law).

The names of jurors are protected by a publication ban. There is a specific criminal offence for disclosing anything that takes place during jury deliberations.[21]

Juries are infrequently used in civil trials in Canada. Because juries have no power to award damages, as they do in the United States, there is less incentive to call for a trial with a jury.

England and Wales

In England and Wales jury trials are used for criminal cases, requiring 12 (between the ages of 18 and 75) jurors. The right to a jury trial has long been enshrined in English law, and is most common in the serious cases, although the defendant can insist on a jury trial for most criminal matters. Jury trials have been increasingly regarded as expensive, time-consuming, and anachronistic.[22] On 18 June 2009 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting in the Court of Appeal, made English legal history by ruling that a criminal trial in the Crown Court could take place without a jury.[23]

Jury trials are also available for some few areas of civil law (for example cases involving police conduct), which require 10 jurors not 12, but less than one percent of civil trials involve juries.[24] At the new Manchester Civil Justice Centre, constructed in 2008, of the 48 courtrooms, fewer than 10 had jury facilities.


In France and other civil law jurisdictions, the jury sits on an equal footing with three professional judges. The jury and judges first consider the questions of guilt. Then, if applicable, they consider the penalty to apply. Juries are only used for severe felony cases with a ten-year or higher sentence.


Jury trials were abolished in Germany on January 4, 1924, because their verdicts were not perceived as just.[25]


Juries were formerly used in India up until the famous K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra, which led to the abolition of jury trials, although minor issues in rural areas are still handled by the panchayat raj system of village assemblies.

In the 1959 Nanavati case, Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati was tried for the murder of his wife Sylvia's paramour, Prem Ahuja. The incident shocked the nation, got unprecedented media coverage, and inspired several books and movies. The case was the last jury trial held in India. The central question of the case was whether the gun went off accidentally or whether it was a premeditated murder.

In the former scenario, Nanavati would be charged under the Indian penal code, for culpable homicide, with a maximum punishment of 10 years. In the latter, he would be charged with murder, with the sentence being death or life imprisonment. Nanavati pleaded not guilty. His defence team argued it was a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, while the prosecution argued it was premeditated murder.

The jury in the Greater Bombay sessions court pronounced Nanavati not guilty with an 8–1 verdict. The sessions judge considered the acquittal as perverse and referred the case to the high court. The prosecution argued that the jury had been misled by the presiding judge on four crucial points. One, the onus of proving that it was an accident and not premeditated murder was on Nanavati. Two, was Sylvia's confession of the grave provocation for Nanavati, or any specific incident in Ahuja's bedroom or both. Three, the judge wrongly told the jury that the provocation can also come from a third person. And four, the jury was not instructed that Nanavati's defence had to be proved, to the extent that there is no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person. The court accepted the arguments, dismissed the jury's verdict and the case was freshly heard in the high court. Since the jury had also been influenced by media and public support for Nanavati and was also open to being misled, the Indian government abolished jury trials after the case.


In Ireland, a common law jurisdiction jury trials are available for criminal before the Circuit Court, Central Criminal Court and defamation cases. Consisting of twelve persons, juries are selected from a jury panel which is picked at random by the county registrar from the electoral register. Juries only decide questions of fact. They have no role in criminal sentencing or awarding damages in libel cases. It is not necessary that a jury be unanimous in its verdict. In civil cases, a verdict may be reached by a majority of nine of the twelve members. In a criminal case, a verdict need not be unanimous where there are not fewer than eleven jurors if ten of them agree on a verdict after considering the case for a "reasonable time".

For certain terrorist and organised crime offences the Director of Public Prosecutions may issue a certificate that the accused be tried by the Special Criminal Court. Instead of a jury the Special Criminal Court consists of three judges, one from the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court.

The constitutional provisions regulating the Trial of Offences are set out in article 37 of the Irish Constitution. DPP v MC Nally sets out that a jury has the right to reach a not guilty verdict even in direct contradicton of the evidence. The principal statute regulating the selection, obligations and conduct of juries is the Juries Act 1976 as amended by the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, which scrapped the upper age limit of 70. Juries are not paid, nor do they receive travel expenses, however they do receive lunch for the days that they are serving.


In Italy, a Civil Law jurisdiction, a "popular Jury" is present only in the Corte d'Assise, where two career magistrates are supported by six so-called Lay Judges, whom are raffled from the registrar of voters. Any Italian citizen, with no distinction of sex or religion, between 30 and 65 years of age, can be appointed as a Juror; in order to be eligible as a Juror for the Corte d'Appello, however, there is a minimum educational requirement, as the Juror must have completed his/her education at the Scuola Media (junior high school) level, while said level is raised for the Corte d'Assise d'Appello (appeal level of the Corte d'Assise) to the Scuola Superiore (senior high school) degree. In the Corte d'Assise, decisions are taken by the stipendiary judges and "Lay Judges" or jurors together at a special meeting behind closed doors, named Camera di Consiglio ("Counsel Chamber"), and the Court is subsequently required to publish written explanations of its decisions within 90 days from the verdict. The Corte d'Assise has jurisdiction to try crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 24 years in prison or life imprisonment, and other serious crimes; felonies that fall under its jurisdiction include terrorism, murder, manslaughter, severe attempts against State personalities, as well as some matters of law requiring ethical and professional evaluations (ex. assisted suicide), while it generally has no jurisdiction over cases whose evaluation requires knowledges of Law which the "Lay Judges" generally don't have. Penalties imposed by the court can include life sentences.

New Zealand

Juries are used in trials for all indictable offences and, at the option of the defendant, summary offences that can be punished with more than 3 months in prison. In civil cases juries are usually only used in cases of defamation. Previously requiring unanimous support, New Zealand now permits majority results of 10-1 or 11-1.[26]


The jury was introduced in 1887, and is solely used in criminal cases on the second tier of the three-tier Norwegian court system ("Lagmannsretten"). The jury consists of 10 people, and has to reach a majority verdict consisting of seven or more of the jurors. [27]

The jury never gives a reason for the verdict.


Scottish trials are based on an adversarial approach. First the prosecution leads evidence from witnesses and after each witness the defence has an opportunity to cross examine. Following the Prosecution case, the defence may move a motion of no case to answer if the worst the prosecution has been able to lead in evidence would be insufficient to convict of any crime. If there remains a case to answer, the defence leads evidence from witnesses in an attempt to refute previous evidence lead by the prosecution, with cross examination being permitted after each witness. Once both prosecution and defence have concluded leading evidence, the case goes to summing up where firstly the prosecution and then the defence get to sum up their case based on the evidence that has been heard. The jury is given guidance on points of law and then sent out to consider its verdict. Juries are composed of fifteen citizens.


The Spanish judiciary system has no established tradition of using juries in trials but, after Franco's dictatorship, the Constitution of Spain of 1978 legislates the right to a trial by jury, called "popular jury" as opposed to a "magistrates jury". The wording is rather vague: "Section 125 - Citizens may engage in popular action and take part in the administration of justice through the institution of the jury, in the manner and with respect to those criminal trials as may be determined by law, as well as in customary and traditional courts."

Jury trials have been very slowly introduced in Spain and have often produced less than desirable results. One of the first cases was that of Mikel Otegi who was tried in 1997 for the murder of two policemen. After a confused trial, five jury members of a total of nine voted to acquit and the judge set the accused man free. This verdict shocked the nation[28].

Another alleged miscarriage of justice by jury trial was the Wanninkhof murder case.

United States

Both Article III of the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment require that criminal cases be tried by a jury,[29] and the Fourteenth Amendment applies this mandate to the states. Although the initial draft did not require a jury for civil cases, this led to an uproar which was followed by the Seventh Amendment, which requires a civil jury in cases where the value in dispute is greater than twenty dollars.[30] However, it has been argued that this preservation of jury trial in civil matters is guided by state restrictions on civil jury trial as an absolute minimum and that the Federal Government is not required to provide a civil jury trial if the state in which the trial is being held does not also mandate civil jury trial in the same matter, since it is a preservation of a pre-existing right held in the states as opposed to unique rights held by the people against the Federal Government solely.[31] In practice most criminal actions in the U.S. are resolved by plea bargain.[32]

In 1898 the Supreme Court held that the jury must be composed of at least twelve persons, although this was not necessarily extended to state civil jury trials.[30] In 1970, however, the Supreme Court held that the twelve persons requirement was a "historical accident", and upheld six-person juries in both criminal and civil cases. There is controversy over smaller juries, with proponents arguing that they are more efficient and opponents arguing that they lead to fluctuating verdicts.[30] In later case, however, the court rejected the use of 5-person juries in criminal cases.[30] Juries go through a selection process called voir dire in which the lawyers question the jurors and then make "peremptory strikes" (remove jurors). Traditionally the removal of jurors required no justification or explanation, but the tradition has been challenged by the Supreme Court. Since the 1970s "scientific jury selection" has become popular.[30]

Unanimous jury verdicts have been standard in Western law. This standard was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1897, but it was rejected in 1972 in two criminal cases. As of 1999 over thirty states had laws allowing less than unanimity in civil cases, but Oregon and Louisiana are the only states which have laws allowing less than unanimous jury verdicts for criminal cases.[30] When the required number of jurors cannot agree on a verdict (a situation sometimes referred to as a hung jury), a mistrial is declared, and the case may be retried with a newly constituted jury. The practice generally was that the jury rules only on questions of facts on guilt; setting the penalty was reserved for the judge. This has been changed by rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court such as in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), which found Arizona's practice, having the judge (in a capital punishment trial by jury) decide between life or death sentences, to be unconstitutional, and reserved that decision for the jury. The judge can, however, overrule the jury and reduce the penalty from death to life if he or she chooses, although this has not yet occurred in an actual trial.

There is no set format for jury deliberations, and the jury will take a period of time to settle into discussing the evidence. Electing a foreperson is usually the first step, although for a particularly short or straightforward case, this may not happen until the delivery of the verdict. If a foreman is elected at the beginning, he or she will chair the discussions, and it is his or her job to try to steer the jury towards a conclusion. The first step will typically be to find out the initial feeling or reaction to the case, which may be by a show of hands. The jury will then attempt to arrive at a consensus verdict. The exchanges of views caused by people whose opinions differ from the emerging consensus will air the issues involved in the case, and consequently points will often arise from the trial that were not specifically discussed during it. The result of these discussions is likely to be that one interpretation is shown to be the most reasonable, and a verdict is thus achieved.

In criminal law, a grand jury is convened to hear only testimony and evidence to determine whether there is a case to be answered and hence whether the accused should be indicted and sent for trial. A separate petit jury (formed of petit jurors) is then convened to hear the trial. In many areas, depending upon the law, a third jury will determine what the penalty should be or recommend what the penalty should be in the penalty phase. At a sentencing hearing, the burden of proof is now preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt and hearsay is allowed. This practice gives the judge the power to change the finding of the jury when deciding on a sentence[33]. When used alone the term jury usually refers to a petit jury.

In each court district, a group of 16–23 citizens holds an inquiry on criminal complaints brought by the prosecutor and decides if a trial is warranted, in which case an indictment is issued. In general, the size of juries tends to be larger if the crime alleged is more serious. If a Grand Jury rejects a proposed indictment it is known as a "no bill"; if they accept to endorse a proposed indictment it is known as a "true bill".

Jury selection

Jurors are selected from a jury pool formed for a specified period of time—usually from one day to two weeks—from lists of citizens living in the jurisdiction of the court. The lists may be electoral rolls (i.e., a list of registered voters in the locale), people who have driver's licenses or other relevant data bases. When selected, being a member of a jury pool is, in principle, compulsory. Prospective jurors are sent a summons and are obligated to appear in a specified jury pool room on a specified date.

However, jurors can be released from the pool for several reasons including illness, prior commitments that can't be abandoned without hardship, change of address to outside the court's jurisdiction, and others. Often jurisdictions pay token amounts for jury duty and many issue stipends to cover transportation expenses for jurors. Work places cannot penalize employees who serve jury duty. Payments to jurors varies by jurisdiction.[34]

In the United States jurors for grand juries are selected from jury pools.

Selection of jurors from a jury pool occurs when a trial is announced and juror names are randomly selected and called out by the jury pool clerk. Depending on the type of trial—whether a 6 person or 12 person jury is needed, in the United States—anywhere from 15 to 30 prospective jurors are sent to the courtroom to participate in voir dire, pronounced "vwar' dir'", and defined as the oath to speak the truth in the examination testing competence of a juror, or in another application, a witness. Once the list of prospective jurors has assembled in the courtroom the court clerk assigns them seats in the order their names were originally drawn. At this point the judge often will ask each prospective juror to answer a list of general questions such as name, occupation, education, family relationships, time conflicts for the anticipated length of the trial. The list is usually written up and clearly visible to assist nervous prospective jurors and may include several questions uniquely pertinent to the particular trial. These questions are to familiarize the judge and attorneys with the jurors and glean biases, experiences, or relationships that could jeopardize the proper course of the trial. After each prospective juror has answered the general slate of questions the attorneys may ask followup questions of some or all prospective jurors. Each side in the trial is allotted a certain number of challenges to remove prospective jurors from consideration. Some challenges are issued during voir dire while others are presented to the judge at the end of voir dire. The judge calls out the names of the anonymously challenged prospective jurors and those return to the pool for consideration in other trials. A jury is formed, then, of the remaining prospective jurors in the order that their names were originally chosen. Any prospective jurors not thusly impaneled return to the jury pool room.

  1. ^ W.L. Warren, "Henry II" University of California Press,(1973)
  2. ^ Daniel Klerman, "Was the Jury Every Self-Informing," Southern California Law Review 77: (2003), 123. http://lawweb.usc.edu/users/dklerman/documents/Klerman.Self-informing.pdf
  3. ^ Oxford History of England, 2nd ed 1955, vol III Domesday Book to Magna Carta, A l Poole, pp.397–398.
  4. ^ Garnish, Lis (1995). "Wantage Church History". Local History Series. Vale and Downland Museum. http://www.wantage.com/museum/Local_History/Wantage%20Church%20History.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  5. ^ See, for example, discussions of the Brunner theory of testimonial, rather than judicial participation as jury origin, explored in MacNair, Vicinage and the Antecedents of the Jury - I. Theories, in Law and History Review, Vol. 17 No 3, 1999, pp. 6-18.
  6. ^ Carey, Christopher. "Legal Space in Classical Athens." Greece & Rome 41(2): Oct. 1994, pp. 172-186.
  7. ^ Dowlen, Oliver. Sorted: Civic Lotteries and the Future of Public Participation. (MASS LBP: Toronto, 2008) pp 38
  8. ^ Review could reduce jury numbers BBC News, 26 April, 2008
  9. ^ Scotsman Newspaper 11 May 2009
  10. ^ "jury nullification definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kws7zVbQ. 
  11. ^ Nullifying the Jury: “The Judicial Oligarchy” Declares War on Jury Nullification Washburn Law Journal May 2, 2007
  12. ^ New Statesman, 2000-10-09.
  13. ^ Luckhurst, Tim (March 20, 2005). "The case for keeping 'not proven' verdict" (in English). The Sunday Times, TimesOnline. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article431121.ece. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  14. ^ Broadbridge, Sally (15 May 2009). "The “not proven” verdict in Scotland" (in English). Standard Note SN/HA/2710. U.K. Parliament, House of Commons, Home Affairs Section. http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snha-02710.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  15. ^ Criminal Code of Canada, s. 785 "summary conviction court"
  16. ^ Criminal Code of Canada, s. 536
  17. ^ Criminal Code of Canada, ss. 471-473
  18. ^ a b c Criminal Code of Canada, Part XX: Jury Trials
  19. ^ R. v. Tatcher, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 652
  20. ^ R. v. Robinson (2004), 189 C.C.C. (3d) 152 (Ont. C.A.)
  21. ^ [ref name="CanadaJury" />
  22. ^ Lloyd-Bostock S, Thomas C. (1999). DECLINE OF THE "LITTLE PARLIAMENT": JURIES AND JURY REFORM IN ENGLAND AND WALES. Law and Contemporary Problems.
  23. ^ BBC News: First trial without jury approved, 18 June 2009
  24. ^ Glendon MA, Carozza PG, Picker CB. (2008) Comparative Legal Traditions, p. 251. Thomson-West.
  25. ^ "Geschworenengericht". http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschworenengericht. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  26. ^ "NZ's first majority guilty verdict". Stuff. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/2563945/NZs-first-majority-guilty-verdict. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  27. ^ "Lov om rettergangsmåten i straffesaker (Straffeprosessloven)". Lovdata. http://www.lovdata.no/all/tl-19810522-025-039.html. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  28. ^ ESPAÑA | Juicio a Mikel Otegi por asesinar a dos ertzainas. Un jurado popular adsuelve al joven de Jarrai
  29. ^ King NJ (1999). "The American Criminal Jury". Law and Contemporary Problems 62 (2): 41. doi:10.2307/1192252. https://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?62+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+41+(Spring+1999). Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f Landsman S. (1999). "The Civil Jury in America". Law and Contemporary Problems 62 (2): 285. doi:10.2307/1192260. https://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?62+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+285+(Spring+1999). Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  31. ^ Amar, A.R. (1998). The Bill of Rights. New Haven, CT: Yale University. pp. 81-118.
  32. ^ "Plea Bargains and the Role of Judges". 2008 National Convention Breakout Session. The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS). http://www.acslaw.org/node/6789. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  33. ^ This power is often used in drug cases "to impose an enhanced sentence ... based on the sentencing judge’s determination of a fact that was not found by the jury or admitted by the defendant". In April 2008, the U.S. District Court, in a 236 page opinion to address this ruled that juries should be told before they deliberate if a defendant is facing a mandatory minimum sentence and also called it "inappropriate" to ignore the juries power to refuse to convict (jury nullification).
  34. ^ http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/CourTopics/StateLinks.asp?id=47&topic=JurMan


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Jacob M. Appel. (Discuss)

Juries are deliberative bodies for determining guilt or innocence.


  • "Do you know what’s wrong with this country? A man doesn’t vote, and doesn’t pay his taxes, and doesn’t have a driver’s license—and, after all that, he still ends up on jury duty. It’s downright un-American."

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JURY, in English law, a body of laymen summoned and sworn (jurati) to ascertain, under the guidance of a judge, the truth as to questions of fact raised in legal proceedings whether civil or criminal. The development of the system of trial by jury has been regarded as one of the greatest achievements of English jurisprudence; it has even been said that the ultimate aim of the English constitution is "to get twelve good men into a box." 1 In modern times the English system of trial by jury 1 I.e. the jury-box, or enclosed space in which the jurors sit in court.

has been adopted in many countries in which jury trial was not native or had been strangled or imperfectly developed under local conditions.

. The origin of the system in England has been much investigated by lawyers and historians. The result of these investigations is a fairly general agreement that the germ of jury trial is to be found in the Frankish inquest (recognitio or inquisitio) transplanted into England by the Norman kings. The essence of this inquest was the summoning of a body of neighbours by a public officer to give answer upon oath (recognoscere veritatem) on some question of fact or law (jus), or of mixed fact and law. At the outset the object of the inquiry was usually to obtain information for the king, e.g. to ascertain facts needed for assessing taxation. Indeed Domesday Book appears to be made up by recording the answers of inquests.

The origin of juries is very fully discussed in W. Forsyth's History of Trial by Jury (1852), and the various theories advanced are more concisely stated in W. Stubbs's Constitutional History (vol. i.) and in E. A. Freeman's Norman Conquest (vol. v.). Until the modern examination of historical documents proved the contrary, the jury system, like all other institutions, was popularly regarded as the work of a single legislator, and in England it has been usually assigned to Alfred the Great. This supposition is without historical foundation, nor is it correct to regard the jury as "copied from this or that kindred institution to be found in this or that German of Scandinavian land," or brought over ready made by Hengist or by William.' "Many writers of authority," says Stubbs, "have maintained that the entire jury system is indigenous in England, some deriving it from Celtic tradition based on the principles of Roman law, and adopted by the Anglo-Saxons and Normans from the people they had conquered. Others have regarded it as a product of that legal genius of the Anglo-Saxons of which Alfred is the mythical impersonation, or as derived by that nation from the customs of primitive Germany or from their intercourse with the Danes. Nor even when it is admitted that the system of ` recognition ' was introduced from Normandy have legal writers agreed as to the source from which the Normans themselves derived it. One scholar maintains that it was brought by the Norsemen from Scandinavia; another that it was derived from the processes of the canon law; another that it was developed on Gallic soil from Roman principles; another that it came from Asia through the crusades," or was borrowed by the Angles and Saxons from their Slavonic neighbours in northern Europe. The true answer is that forms of trial resembling the jury system in various particulars are to be found in the primitive institutions of all nations. That which comes nearest in time and character to trial by jury is the system of recognition by sworn inquest, introduced into England by the Normans. "That inquest," says Stubbs, "is directly derived from the Frank capitularies, into which it may have been adopted from the fiscal regulations of the Theodosian code, and thus own some distant relationship with the Roman jurisprudence." However that may be, the system of "recognition" consisted in questions of fact, relating to fiscal or judicial business, being submitted by the officers of the crown to sworn witnesses in the local courts. Freeman points out that the Norman rulers of England were obliged, more than native rulers would have been, to rely on this system for accurate information. They needed to have a clear and truthful account of disputed points set before them, and such an account was sought for in the oaths of the recognitors. 2 The Norman conquest, therefore, fostered the growth of those native germs common to England with other countries out of which the institution of juries grew. Recognition, as introduced by the Normans, is only, in this point of view, another form of the same principle which shows itself in the compurgators, in the frith-borh (frank-pledge), in every detail of the action of the popular courts before the conquest. Admitting 1 Freeman, Norman Conquest, v, 451.

2 This fact would account for the remarkable development of the system on English ground, as contrasted with its decay and extinction in France.

with Stubbs that the Norman recognition was the instrument which the lawyers in England ultimately shaped into trial by jury, Freeman maintains none the less that the latter is distinctively English. Forsyth comes to substantially the same conclusion. Noting the jury germs of the Anglo-Saxon period, he shows how out of those elements, which continued in full force under the Anglo-Normans, was produced at last the institution of the jury. "As yet it was only implied in the requirement that disputed questions should be determined by the voice of sworn witnesses taken from the neighbourhood, and deposing to the truth of what they had seen or heard." The conclusions of Sir F. Pollock and F.W. Maitland, expressed in their History of English Law, and based on a closer study, are to the same effect.

This inquest then was a royal institution and not a survival from Anglo-Saxon law or popular custom, under which cornpurgation and the ordeal were the accepted modes of trying issues of fact.

The inquest by recognition, formerly an inquest of office, i.e. to ascertain facts in the interests of the crown or the exchequer, was gradually allowed between subjects as a mode of settling disputes of fact. This extension began with the assize of novel disseisin, whereby the king protected by royal writ and inquest of neighbours every seisin of a freehold. This was followed by the grand assize, applicable to questions affecting freehold or status. A defendant in such an action was enabled by an enactment of Henry II. to decline trial by combat and choose trial by assize, which was conducted as follows. The sheriff summoned four knights of the neighbourhood, who being sworn chose the twelve lawful knights most cognisant of the facts, to determine on their oaths which had the better right to the land. If they all knew the facts and were agreed as to their verdict, well and good; if some or all were ignorant, the fact was certified in court, and new knights were named, until twelve were found to be agreed. The same course was followed when the twelve were not unanimous. New knights were added until the twelve were agreed. This was called afforcing the assize. At this time the knowledge on which the jurors acted was their own personal knowledge, acquired independently of the trial. "So entirely," says Forsyth, "did they proceed upon their own previously formed view of the facts in dispute that they seem to have considered themselves at liberty to pay no attention to evidence offered in court, however clearly it might disprove the case which they were prepared to support." The use of recognition is prescribed by the constitutions of Clarendon (1166) for cases of dispute as to lay or clerical tenure. See Forsyth, p. 131; Stubbs, i. 617.

This procedure by the assize was confined to real actions, and while it preceded, it is not identical with the modern jury trial in civil cases, which was gradually introduced by consent of the parties and on pressure from the judges. Jury trial proper differs from the grand and petty assizes in that the assizes were summoned at the same time as the defendant to answer a question formulated in the writ; whereas in the ordinary jury trial no order for a jury could be made till the parties by their pleadings had come to an issue of fact and had put themselves on the country, posuerunt se super patriam (Pollock and Maitland, i. 119-128; ii. 601, 615, 621).

Table of contents

The Grand Jury

In Anglo-Saxon times there was an institution analogous to the grand jury in criminal cases, viz. the twelve senior thegns, who, according to an ordinance of Æthelred II., were sworn in the county court that they would accuse no innocent man and acquit no guilty one. The twelve thegns were a jury of presentment or accusation, like the grand jury of later times, and the absolute guilt or innocence of those accused by them had to be determined by subsequent proceedings - by compurgation or ordeal. Whether this is the actual origin of the grand jury or not, the assizes of Clarendon (1166) and Northampton (1176) establish the criminal jury on a definite basis.

In the laws of Edward the Confessor and the earlier AngloSaxon kings are found many traces of a public duty to bring offenders to justice, by hue and cry, or by action of the frithborh, township, tithing or hundred. By the assize of Clarendon it is directed that inquiry be made in each county and in each hundred by twelve lawful (legaliores) men of the hundred, and by four lawful men from each of the four vills nearest to the scene of the alleged crime, on oath to tell the truth if in the hundred or vill there is any man accused (rettatus aut publicatus) as a robber or murderer or thief, or receiver of such. The assize of Northampton added forgery of coin or charters (falsonaria) and arson. The inquiry is to be held by the justices in eyre, and by the sheriffs in their county courts. On a finding on the oath aforesaid, the accused was to be taken and to go to the ordeal. By the articles of visitation of 1194, four knights are to be chosen from the county who by their oath shall choose two lawful knights of each hundred or wapentake, or, if knights be wanting, free and legal men, so that the twelve may answer for all matters within the hundred, including, says Stubbs, "all the pleas of the crown, the trial of malefactors and their receivers, as well as a vast amount of civil business." The process thus described is now regarded as an employment of the Frankish inquest for the collection of fama publica. It was alternative to the rights of a private accuser by appeal, and the inquest were not exactly either accusers or witnesses, but gave voice to public repute as to the criminality of the persons whom they presented. From this form of inquest has developed the grand jury of presentment or accusation, and the coroner's inquest, which works partly as a grand jury as to homicide cases, and partly as an inquest of office as to treasure trove, &c.

The number of the grand jury is fixed by usage at not less than twelve nor more than twenty-three jurors. Unanimity is not required, but twelve must concur in the presentment or indictment.' This jury retains so much of its ancient character that it may present of its own knowledge or information, and is not tied down by rules of evidence. After a general charge by the judge as to the bills of indictment on the file of the court, the grand jury considers the bills in private and hears upon oath in the grand jury chamber some or all the witnesses called in support of an indictment whose names are endorsed upon the bill. It does not as a rule hear counsel or solicitors for the prosecution, nor does it see or hear the accused or his witnesses, and it is not concerned with the nature of the defence, its functions being to ascertain whether there is a prima facie case against the accused justifying his trial. If it thinks that there is such a case, the indictment is returned into court as a true bill; if it thinks that there is not, the bill is ignored and returned into court torn up or marked "no bill," or "ignoramus." Inasmuch as no man can be put on trial for treason or felony, and few are tried for misdemeanour, without the intervention of the grand jury, the latter has a kind of veto with respect to criminal prosecutions. The grand jurors are described in the indictment as "the jurors for our lord the king." As such prosecutions in respect of indictable offences are now in almost all cases begun by a full preliminary inquiry before justices, and inasmuch as cases rarely come before a grand jury until after committal of the accused for trial, the present utility of the grand jury depends very much on the character of the justices' courts. As a review of the discretion of stipendiary magistrates in committing cases for trial, the intervention of the grand jury is in most cases superfluous; and even when the committing justices are not lawyers, it is now a common opinion that their views as to the existence of a case to be submitted to a jury for trial should not be over-ridden by a lay tribunal sitting in private, and in this opinion many grand jurors concur. But the abolition of the grand jury would involve great changes in criminal procedure for which parliament seems to have no appetite. Forsyth thinks that the grand jury will often baffle "the attempts of malevolence" by ignoring a malicious and unfounded prosecution; but it may also defeat the ends of justice by shielding a criminal with whom it has Blackstone puts the principle as being that no man shall be convicted except by the unanimous voice of twenty-four of his equals or neighbours - twelve on the grand, and twelve on the petty jury.

strong political or social sympathies. The qualification of the grand jurymen is that they should be freeholders of the county - to what amount appears to be uncertain - and they are summoned by the sheriff, or failing him by the coroner.

The coroner's jury must by statute (1887) consist of not more than twenty-three nor less than twelve jurors. It is summoned by the coroner to hold an inquest super visum corporis in cases of sudden or violent death, and of death in prisons or lunatic asylums, and to deal with treasure trove. The qualification of the coroner's jurors does not depend on the Juries Acts 1825 and 1870, and in practice they are drawn from householders in the immediate vicinity of the place where the inquest is held. Unanimity is not required of a coroner's jury; but twelve must concur in the verdict. If it charges anyone with murder or manslaughter, it is duly recorded and transmitted to a court of assize, and has the same effect as an indictment by a grand jury, i.e. it is accusatory only and is not conclusive, and is traversable, and the issue of guilt or innocence is tried by a petty jury.

The Petty Jury

The ordeal by water or fire was used as the final test of guilf or innocence until its abolition by decree of the Lateran council (1219). On its abolition it became necessary to devise a new mode of determining guilt as distinguished from ill fame as charged by the grand jury. So early as 1221 accused persons had begun to put themselves on the country, or to pay to have a verdict for "good or ill"; and the trial seems to have been by calling for the opinions of the twelve men and the four townships, who may have been regarded as a second body of witnesses who could traverse the opinion of the hundred jury. (See Pollock and Maitland, ii. 646.) The reference to judicium parium in Magna Carta is usually taken to refer to the jury, but it is clear that what is now known as the petty jury was not then developed in its present form. "The history of that institution is still in manuscript," says Maitland.

It is not at all clear that at the outset the trial by the country (in Pais; in patria) was before another and different jury. The earliest instances look as if the twelve men and the four vills were the patria and had to agree. But by the time of Edward I. the accused seems to have been allowed to call in a second jury. A person accused by the inquest of the hundred was allowed to have the truth of the charge tried by another and different jury. 2 "There is," says Forsyth, "no possibility of assigning a date to this alteration." "In the time of Bracton (middle of the 13th century) the usual mode of determining innocence or guilt was by combat or appeal. But in most cases the appellant had the option of either fighting with his adversary or putting himself on his country for trial" - the exceptions being murder by secret poisoning, and certain circumstances presumed by the law to be conclusive of guilt. 3 But the separation must have been complete by 1352, in which year it was enacted "that no indictor shall be put in inquests upon deliverance of the indictees of felonies or trespass if he be challenged for that same cause by the indictee." The jurors, whatever their origin, differed from the Saxon doomsmen and the jurats of the Channel Islands in that they adjudged nothing; and from compurgators or oath-helpers in 2 The distinction between the functions of the grand jury, which presents or accuses criminals, and the petty jury, which tries them, has suggested the theory that the system of compurgation is the origin of the jury system - the first jury representing the compurgators of the accuser, the second the compurgators of the accused.

Forsyth, 206. The number of the jury (twelve) is responsible for some unfounded theories of the origin of the system. This use of twelve is not confined to England, nor in England or elsewhere to jj udicial institutions. "Its general prevalence," says Hallam (Middle Ages, ch. viii.), "shows that in searching for the origin of trial by ury we cannot rely for a moment upon any analogy which the mere number affords." In a Guide to English Juries (1682), by a person of quality (attributed to Lord Somers), the following passage occurs: "In analogy of late the jury is reduced to the number of twelve, like as the prophets were twelve to foretell the truth; the apostles twelve to preach the truth; the discoverers twelve, sent into Canaan to seek and report the truth; and the stones twelve that the heavenly Hierusalem is built on." Lord Coke indulged in similar speculations.

that they were not witnesses called by a litigant to support his case (Pollock and Maitland, i. 118). Once established, the jury of trial whether of actions or indictments developed on the same lines. But at the outset this jury differed in one material respect from the modern trial jury. The ancient trial jury certify to the truth from their knowledge of the facts, however acquired. In other words, they resemble witnesses or collectors of local evidence or gossip rather than jurors. The complete withdrawal of the witness character from the jury is connected by Forsyth with the ancient rules of law as to proof of written instruments, and a peculiar mode of trial per sectam. When a deed is attested by witnesses, you have a difference between the testimony of the witness, who deposes to the execution of the deed, and the verdict of the jury as to the fact of execution. It has been contended with much plausibility that in such cases the attesting witnesses formed part of the jury. Forsyth doubts that conclusion, although he admits that, as the jurors themselves were originally mere witnesses, there was no distinction in principle between them and the attesting witnesses, and that the attesting witnesses might be associated with the jury in the discharge of the function of giving a verdict. However that may be, in the reign of Edward III., although the witnesses are spoken of "as joined to the assize," they are distinguished from the jurors. The trial per sectam was used as an alternative to the assize or jury, and resembled in principle the system of compurgation. The claimant proved his case by vouching a certain number of witnesses (secta), who had seen the transaction in question, and the defendant rebutted the presumption thus created by vouching a larger number of witnesses on his own side. In cases in which this was allowed, the jury did not interpose at all, but in course of time the practice arose of the witnesses of the secta telling their story to the jury. In these two instances we have the jury as judges of the facts sharply contrasted with the witnesses who testify to the facts; and, with the increasing use of juries and the development of rules of evidence, this was gradually established as the true principle of the system. In the reign of Henry IV. we find the judges declaring that the jury after they have been sworn should not see or take with them any other evidence than that which has been offered in open court. But the personal knowledge of the jurors was not as yet regarded as outside the evidence on which they might found a verdict, and the stress laid upon the selection of jurymen from the neighbourhood of the cause of the action shows that this element was counted on, and, in fact, deemed essential to a just consideration of the case. Other examples of the same theory of the duties of the jury may be found in the language used by legal writers. Thus it has been said that the jury may return a verdict although no evidence at all be offered, and again, that the evidence given in court is not binding on the jury, because they are assumed from their local connexion to be sufficiently informed of the facts to give a verdict without or in opposition to the oral evidence. A recorder of London, temp. Edward VI., says that, "if the witnesses at a trial do not agree with the jurors, the verdict of the twelve shall be taken and the witnesses shall be rejected." Forsyth suggests as a reason for the continuance of this theory that it allowed the jury an escape from the attaint, by which penalties might be imposed on them for delivering a false verdict in a civil. case. They could suggest that the verdict was according to the fact, though not according to the evidence.

In England the trial jury (also called petty jury or traverse jury) consists of twelve jurors, except in the county court, where the number is eight. In civil but not in criminal cases the trial may by consent be by fewer than twelve jurors, and the verdict may by consent be that of the majority. The rule requiring a unanimous verdict has been variously explained. Forsyth regards the rule as intimately connected with the original character of the jury as a body of witnesses, and with the conception common in primitive society that safety is to be found in the number of witnesses, rather than the character of their testimony. The old notion seems to have been that to justify an accusation, or to find a fact, twelve sworn men must be agreed. The afforcing of the jury, already described, marks an intermediate stage in the development. Where the juries were not unanimous new jurors were added until twelve were found to be of the same opinion. From the unanimous twelve selected out of a large number to the unanimous twelve constituting the whole jury was a natural step, which, however, was not taken without hesitation. In some old cases the verdict of eleven jurors out of twelve was accepted, but it was decided in the reign of Edward III. that the verdict must be the unanimous opinion of the whole jury. Diversity of opinion was taken to imply perversity of judgment, and the law sanctioned the application of the harshest methods to produce unanimity. The jurors while considering their verdict were not allowed a fire nor any refreshment, and it is said in some of the old books that, if they failed to agree, they could be put in a cart and drawn after the justices to the border of the county, and then upset into a ditch. These rude modes of enforcing unanimity has been softened in later practice, but in criminal cases the rule of unanimity is still absolutely fixed.

In civil cases and in trials for misdemeanour, the jurors are allowed to separate during adjournments and to return to their homes; in trials for treason, treason-felony and murder, the jurors, once sworn, must not separate until discharged. But by an act of 1897 jurors on trials for other felonies may be allowed by the court to separate in the same way as on trials for misdemeanour.

These rules do not apply to a jury which has retired to consider its verdict. During the period of retirement it is under the keeping of an officer of the court.

At common law aliens were entitled to be tried by a jury de medietate linguae - half Englishmen, half foreigners, not necessarily compatriots of the accused. This privilege was abolished by the Naturalization Act 1870; but by the Juries Act 1870 aliens who have been domiciled in England or Wales for ten years or upwards, if in other respects duly qualified, are liable to jury service as if they were natural-born subjects (s. 8).

A jury of matrons is occasionally summoned, viz. on a writ de ventre inspiciendo, or where a female condemned to death pleads pregnancy in stay of execution.

The jurors are selected from the inhabitants of the county, borough or other area for which the court to which they are summoned is commissioned to act. In criminal cases, owing to the rules as to venue and that crime is to be tried in the neighbourhood where it is committed, the mode 'of selection involves a certain amount of independent local knowledge on the part of the jurors. Where local prejudice has been aroused for or against the accused, which is likely to affect the chance of a fair trial, the proceedings may be removed to another jurisdiction, and there are a good many offences in which by legislation the accused may be tried where he is caught, irrespective of the place where he is alleged to have broken the law. As regards civil cases, a distinction was at an early date drawn between local actions which must be tried in the district in which they originated, and transitory actions which could be tried in any county. These distinctions are now of no importance, as the place of trial of a civil action is decided as a matter of procedure and convenience, and regard is not necessarily paid to the place at which a wrong was done or a contract broken.

The qualifications for, and exemptions from, service as a petty juror are in the main contained in the Juries Acts 1825 and 1870, though a number of further exemptions are added by scattered enactments. The exemptions include members of the legislature and judges, ministers of various denominations, and practising barristers and solicitors, registered medical practitioners and dentists, and officers and soldiers of the regular army. Persons over sixty are exempt but not disqualified. Lists of the jurors are prepared by the overseers in rural parishes and by the town clerks in boroughs, and are submitted to justices for revision. When jurors are required for a civil or criminal trial they are summoned by the sheriff or, if he cannot act, by the coroner. Special and Common Juries. - For the purpose of civil trials in the superior courts there are two lists of jurors, special and common. The practice of selecting special jurors to try important civil cases appears to have sprung up, without legislative enactment, in the procedure of the courts. Forsyth says that the first statutory recognition of it is so late as 3 Geo. II. c. 25, and that in the oldest book of practice in existence (Powell's Attourney's Academy, 1623) there is no allusion to two classes of jurymen. The acts, however, which regulate the practice allude to it as well established. The Juries Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c. 77) defines the class of persons entitled and liable to serve on special juries thus: Every man whose name shall be on the jurors' book for any county, &c., and who shall be legally entitled to be called an esquire, or shall be a person of higher degree, or a banker or merchant, or who shall occupy a house of a certain rateable value (e.g. boo in a town of 20,000 inhabitants, -50 elsewhere), or a farm of £300 or other premises at boo. A special juryman receives a fee of a guinea for each cause. Either party may obtain an order for a special jury, but must pay the additional expenses created thereby unless the judge certifies that it was a proper case to be so tried. For the common jury any man is qualified and liable to serve who has 10 by the year in land or tenements of freehold, copyhold or customary tenure; or X 20 on lands or tenement held by lease for twenty-one years or longer, or who being a householder is rated at £30 in the counties of London and Middlesex, or X 20 in any other county. A special jury cannot be ordered in cases of treason or felony, and may be ordered in cases of misdemeanour only when the trial is in the king's bench division of the High Court, or the civil side at assizes.


It has always been permissible for the parties to challenge the jurors summoned to consider indictments or to try cases. Both in civil and criminal cases a challenge "for cause" is allowed; in criminal cases a peremptory challenge is also allowed. Challenge "for cause" may be either to the array, i.e. to the whole number of jurors returned, or to the polls, e. to the jurors individually. A challenge to the array is either a principal challenge (on the ground that the sheriff is a party to the cause, or related to one of the parties), or a challenge for favour (on the ground of circumstances implying "at least a probability of bias or favour in the sheriff"). A challenge to the polls is an exception to one or more jurymen on either of the following grounds: (1) propter honoris respectum, as when a lord of parliament is summoned; (2) propter defectum, for want of qualification; (3) propter affectum, on suspicion of bias or partiality; and (4) propter delictum, when the juror has been convicted of an infamous offence. The challenge propter afectum is, like the challenge to the array, either principal challenge or "to the favour." In England as a general rule the juror may be interrogated to show want of qualification; but in other cases the person making the challenge must prove it without questioning the juror, and the courts do not allow the protracted examination on the voir dire which precedes every cause célèbre in the United States. On indictments for treason the accused has a right peremptorily to challenge thirty-five of the jurors on the panel; in cases of felony the number is limited to twenty, and in cases of misdemeanour there is no right of peremptory challenge. The Crown has not now the right of peremptory challenge and may challenge only for cause certain (Juries Act 1825, s. 29). In the case of felony, on the first call of the list jurors objected to by the Crown are asked to stand by, and the cause of challenge need not be assigned by the Crown until the whole list has been perused or gone through, or unless there remain no longer twelve jurors left to try the case, exclusive of those challenged. This arrangement practically amounts to giving the Crown the benefit of a peremptory challenge.

Function of Jury

The jurors were originally the mouthpiece of local opinion on the questions submitted to them, or witnesses to fact as to such questions. They have now become the judges of fact upon the evidence laid before them. Their province is strictly limited to questions of fact, and within that province they are still further restricted to matters proved by evidence in the course of the trial and in theory must not act upon their own personal knowledge and observation except so far as it proceeds from what is called a "view" of the subject matter of the litigation. Indeed it is now well established that if a juror is acquainted with facts material to the case, he should inform the court so that he may be dismissed from the jury and called as a witness; and Lord Ellenborough ruled that a judge would misdirect the jury if he told them that they might reject the evidence and go by their own knowledge. The old decantatum assigns to judge and jury their own independent functions: Ad quaestionem legis respondent judices: ad quaestionem facti juratores (Plowden, 114). But the independence of the jurors as to matters of fact was from an early time not absolute. In certain civil cases a litigant dissatisfied by the verdict could adopt the procedure by attaint, and if the attaint jury of twenty-four found that the first jury had given a false verdict, they were fined and suffered the villainous judgment. Attaints fell into disuse on the introduction about 1665 of the practice of granting new trials when the jury found against the weight of the evidence, or upon a wrong direction as to the law of the case.

In criminal cases the courts attempted to control the verdicts by fining the jurors for returning a verdict contra plenam et manifestam evidentiam. But this practice was declared illegal in Bushell's case (1670); and so far as criminal cases are concerned the independence of the jury as sole judges of fact is almost absolute. If they acquit, their action cannot be reviewed nor punished, except on proof of wilful and corrupt consent to "embracery" (Juries Act 1825, s. 61). If they convict no new trial can be ordered except in the rare instances of misdemeanours tried as civil cases in the High Court. In trials for various forms of libel during the 18th century, the judges restricted the powers of juries by ruling that their function was limited to finding whether the libel had in fact been published, and that it was for the court to decide whether the words published constituted an offence.' By Fox's Libel Act 1792 the jurors in such cases were expressly empowered to bring in a general verdict of libel or no libel, i.e. to deal with the whole question of the meaning and extent of the incriminated publication. In other words, they were given the same independence in cases of libel as in other criminal cases. This independence has in times of public excitement operated as a kind of local option against the existing law and as an aid to procuring its amendment. Juries in Ireland in agrarian cases often acquit in the teeth of the evidence. In England the independence of the jury in criminal trials is to some extent menaced by the provisions of the Criminal Appeal Act 1907.

While the jury is in legal theory absolute as to matters of fact, it is in practice largely controlled by the judges. Not only does the judge at the trial decide as to the relevancy of the evidence tendered to the issues to be proved, and as to the admissibility of questions put to a witness, but he also advises the jury as to the logical bearing of the evidence admitted upon the matters to be found by the jury. The rules as to admissibility of evidence, largely based upon scholastic logic, sometimes difficult to apply, and almost unknown in continental jurisprudence, coupled with the right of an English judge to sum up the evidence (denied to French judges) and to express his own opinion as to its value (denied to American judges), fetter to some extent the independence or limit the chances of error of the jury.

"The whole theory of the jurisdiction of the courts to interfere with the verdict of the constitutional tribunal is that the court is satisfied that the jury have not acted reasonably upon the evidence but have been misled by prejudice or passion" (Watt v. Watt (1905); App. Cas. 118, per Lord Halsbury). In civil cases the verdict may be challenged on the ground that it is against the evidence or against the weight of the evidence, or unsupported by any evidence. It is said to be against the evidence when the jury have completely misapprehended the facts proved and have drawn an inference so wrong as to be in substance perverse. The dissatisfaction of the trial judge with the verdict is a potent but not conclusive element in determining as to the perversity of a verdict, because of his special opportunity of appreciating the 1 See R. v. Dean of St. Asaph (1789), 3 T.R. 418.

evidence and the demeanour of the witnesses. But his opinion is less regarded now that new trials are granted by the court of appeal than under the old system when the new trial was sought in the court of which he was a member.

The appellate court will not upset a verdict when there is substantial and conflicting evidence before the jury. In such cases it is for the jury to say which side is to be believed, and the court will not interfere with the verdict. To upset a verdict on the ground that there is no evidence to go to the jury implies that the judge at the trial ought to have withdrawn the case from the jury. Under modern procedure, in order to avoid the risk of a new trial, it is not uncommon to take the verdict of a jury on the hypothesis that there was evidence for their consideration, and to leave the unsuccessful party to apply for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The question whether there was any evidence proper to be submitted to the jury arises oftenest in cases involving an imputation of negligence - e.g. in an action of damages against a railway company for injuries sustained in a collision. Juries are somewhat ready to infer negligence, and the court has to say whether, on the facts proved, there was any evidence of negligence by the defendant. This is by no means the same thing as saying whether, in the opinion of the court, there was negligence. The court may be of opinion that on the facts there was none, yet the facts themselves may be of such a nature as to be evidence of negligence to go before a jury. When the facts proved are such that a reasonable man might have come to the conclusion that there was negligence, then, although the court would not have come to the same conclusion, it must admit that there is evidence to go before the jury. This statement indicates existing practice but scarcely determines what relation between the facts proved and the conclusion to be established is necessary to make the facts evidence from which a jury may infer the conclusion. The true explanation is to be found in the principle of relevancy. Any fact which is relevant to the issue constitutes evidence to go before the jury, and any fact, roughly speaking, is relevant between which and the fact to be proved there may be a connexion as cause and effect (see Evidence). As regards damages the court has always had wide powers, as damages are often a question of law. But when the amount of the damages awarded by a jury is challenged as excessive or inadequate, the appellate court, if it considers the amount unreasonably large or unreasonably small, must order a new trial unless both parties consent to a reduction or increase of the damages to a figure fixed by the court; see Watt v. Watt (1905), App. Cas. 115.

Value of Jury System

The value of the jury in past history as a bulwark against aggression by the Crown or executive cannot be over-rated, but the working of the institution has not escaped criticism. Its use protracts civil trials. The jurors are usually unwilling and are insufficiently remunerated; and jury trials in civil cases often drag out much longer and at greater expense than trials by a judge alone, and the proceedings are occasionally rendered ineffective by the failure of the jurors to agree.

There is much force in the arguments of Bentham and others against the need of unanimity - the application of pressure to force conviction on the minds of jurors, the indifference to veracity which the concurrence of unconvinced minds must produce in the public mind, the probability that jurors will disagree and trials be rendered abortive, and the absence of any reasonable security in the unanimous verdict that would not exist in the verdict of a majority. All this is undeniably true, but disagreements are happily not frequent, and whatever may happen in the jury room no compulsion is now used by the court to induce agreement.

But, apart from any incidental defects, it may be doubted whether, as an instrument for the investigation of truth, the jury system deserves all the encomiums which have been passed upon it. In criminal cases, especially of the graver kind, it is perhaps the best tribunal that could be devised. There the element of moral doubt enters largely into the consideration of the case, and that can best be measured by a popular tribunal. Opinion in England has hitherto been against subjecting a man to serious punishment as a result of convicticn before a judge sitting without a jury, and the judges themselves would be the first to deprecate so great a responsibility, and the Criminal Appeal Act 1907, which constituted the court of criminal appeal, recognized the responsibility by requiring a quorum of three judges in order to constitute a court. The same act, by permitting an appeal to persons convicted on indictment both on questions of fact and of law, removed to a great extent any possibility of error by a jury. But in civil causes, where the issue must be determined one way or the other on the balance of probabilities, a single judge would probably be a better tribunal than the present combination of judge and jury. Even if it be assumed that he would on the whole come to the same conclusion as a jury deliberating under his directions, he would come to it more quickly. Time would be saved in taking evidence, summing up would be unnecessary, and the addresses of counsel would inevitably be shortened and concentrated on the real points at issue. Modern legislation and practice in England have very much reduced the use of the jury both in civil and criminal cases.

In the county courts trial by jury is the exception and not the rule. In the court of chancery and the admiralty court it was never used. Under the Judicature Acts many cases which in the courts of common law would have been tried with a jury are now tried before a judge alone, or (rarely) with assessors, or before an official referee. Indeed cynics say that a jury is insisted on chiefly in cases when a jury, from prejudice or other causes, is likely to be more favourable than a judge alone.

In criminal cases, by reason of the enormous number of offences punishable on summary conviction and of the provisions made for trying certain indictable offences summarily if the offender is young or elects for summary trial, juries are less called on in proportion to the number of offences committed than was the practice in former years.


According to the Regiam Majestatem, which is identical with the treatise of Glanvill on the law of England (but whether the original or only a copy of that work is disputed), trial by jury existed in Scotland for civil and criminal cases from as early a date as in England, and there is reason to believe that at all events the system became established at a very early date. Its history was very different from that of the English jury system. There was no grand jury under Scots law, but it was introduced in 1708 for the purpose of high treason (7 Anne c. 21). For the trial of criminal cases the petty jury is represented by the criminal "assize." This jury has always consisted of fifteen persons and the jurors are chosen by ballot by the clerk of the court from the list containing the names of the special and common jurors, five from the special, ten from the common. Prosecutor and accused each have five peremptory challenges, of which two only may be directed against the special jurors; but there is no limit to challenges for cause. The jury is not secluded during the trial except in capital cases or on special order of the court made proprio motu or on the application of prosecutor or accused. The verdict need not be unanimous, nor is enclosure a necessary preliminary to a majority verdict. It is returned viva voce by the chancellor or foreman, and entered on the record by the clerk of the court, and the entry read to the jury. Besides the verdicts of "guilty" and "not guilty," a Scots jury may return a verdict of "not proven," which has legally the same effect as not guilty in releasing the accused from further proceedings on the particular charge, but inflicts on him the stigma of moral guilt.

Jury trial in civil cases was at one time in general if not prevailing use, but was gradually superseded for most purposes on the institution of the Court of Session (1 Mackay, Ct. Sess. Pr. 33). In this, as in many other matters, Scots law and procedure tend to follow continental rather than insular models. The civil jury was reintroduced in 1815 (55 Geo. III. c. 42), mainly on account of the difficulties experienced by the House of Lords in dealing with questions of fact raised on Scottish appeals. At the outset a special court was instituted in the nature of a judicial commission to ascertain by means of a jury facts deemed relevant to the issues in a cause and sent for such determination at the discretion of the court in which the cause was pending. The process was analogous to the sending of an issue out of chancery for trial in a superior court of common law, or in a court of assize. In 1830 the jury court ceased to exist as a separate tribunal and was merged in the Court of Session. By legislation of 1819 and 1825 certain classes of cases were indicated as appropriate to be tried by a jury; but in 1850 the cases so to be tried were limited to actions for defamation and nuisance, or properly and in substance actions for damages, and under an act of 1866 even in these cases the jury may be dispensed with by consent of parties.

The civil jury consists as in England of twelve jurors chosen by ballot from the names on the list of those summoned. There is a right of peremptory challenge limited to four, and also a right to challenge for cause. Unanimity was at first but is not now required. The jury if unanimous may return a verdict immediately on the close of the case. If they are not unanimous they are enclosed and may at any time not less than three hours after being enclosed return a verdict by a bare majority. If after six hours they do not agree by the requisite majority, i.e. are equally divided, they must be discharged. It was stated by Commissioner Adam, under whom the Scots civil jury was originated, that in twenty years he knew of only one case in which the jury disagreed. Jury trial in civil cases in Scotland has not flourished or given general satisfaction, and is resorted to only in a small proportion of cases. This is partly due to its being transplanted from England.


The jury laws of Ireland do not differ in substance from those of England. The qualifications of jurors are regulated by O'Hagan's Acts 1871 and 1872, and the Juries Acts 1878 and 1894. In criminal cases much freer use is made than in England of the rights of the accused to challenge, and of the Crown to order jurors to stand by, and what is called "jury-packing" seems to be the object of both sides when some political or agrarian issue is involved in the trial. Until the passing of the Irish Local Government Act 1898, the grand jury, besides its functions as a jury of accusation, had large duties with respect to local government which are now transferred to the county councils and other elective bodies.

British Empire

In most parts of the British Empire the jury system is in force as part of the original law of the colonists or under the colonial charters of justice or by local legislation. The grand jury is not in use in India; was introduced but later abolished in the Cape Colony; and in Australia has been for most purposes superseded by the public prosecutor. The ordinary trial jury for criminal cases is twelve, but in India may be nine, seven, five or three, according to certain provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898. In countries where the British Crown has foreign jurisdiction the jury for criminal trials has in some cases been fixed at a less number than twelve and the right of the Crown to fix the number is established; see ex p. Carew, 1897, A.C. 719. In civil cases the number of the jury is reduced in some colonies, e.g. to seven in Tasmania and Trinidad.

European Countries

In France there is no civil jury. In criminal cases the place of the grand jury is taken by the chambre des mises en accusation, and the more serious crimes are tried before a jury of twelve which finds its verdict by a majority, the exact number of which may not be disclosed. In Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany, certain classes of crime are tried with the aid of a jury.

United States

The English jury system was part of the law of the American colonies before the declaration of independence; and grand jury, coroner's jury and petty jury continue in full use in the United States. Under the Federal Constitution (Article iii.) there is a right to trial by jury in all criminal cases (except on impeachment) and in all civil actions at common law in which the subject matter exceeds $20 in value (amendments vi. and vii.). The trial jury must be of twelve and its verdict must be unanimous; see Cooley, Constitutional Limitations (6th ed.), 389. The respective provinces of judge and jury have been much discussed and there has been a disposition to declare the jury supreme as to law as well as fact. The whole subject is fully treated by reference to English and American authorities, and the conflicting views are stated in Sparf v. United States, 1895, 156 U.S. 61. The view of the majority of the court in that case was that it is the duty of the jury in a criminal case to receive the law from the court and to apply it as laid down by the court, subject to the condition that in giving a general verdict the jury may incidentally determine both law and fact as compounded in the issues submitted to them in the particular case. The power to give a general verdict renders the duty one of imperfect obligation and enables the jury to take its own view of the terms and merits of the law involved.

The extent to which the jury system is in force in the states of the union depends on the constitution and legislation of each state. In some the use of juries in civil and even in criminal cases is reduced or made subject to the election of the accused. In others unanimous verdicts are not required, while the constitutions of others require the unanimous verdict of the common law dozen. (W. F. C.)

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Simple English

A jury is a group of people who decide whether a person is guilty or innocent of committing a crime. A jury may also be responsible for deciding a penalty for the person if he is found guilty.

In the United States, juries are made up of 12 regular people from the area in which the trial is held and are not members of the court system. They are paid for their service.

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