Level of Polarization This Method Can Handle


Court Jury Procedure

June 13, 2018 Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team
February 15, 2018 Potapv
Level of Polarization This Method Can Handle

A law court or 'petit' jury (hereafter 'jury') is a randomly selected group of citizens of a country sworn in to participate in deliberation for the rendering of a verdict on behalf of the government.

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Problems and Purpose

The purpose of a jury is to deliberate and come up with a conclusion based on the evidence and witnesses provided. The jury exists to prevent “oppression by the government." Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so it is not defendant’s job to prove innocence it is prosecution’s job to prove guilt. If it is not brought up the jury cannot just assume, they have to make their conclusion/verdict based on information provided. They cannot use their own judgments and opinions. In US, each selected juror goes through voir dire, “to say the truth”, to make sure that there are no links between jurors and people involved in the trial. So for example if a person who was preliminary selected to be part of jury will be disqualified or removed if they know the defendant or plaintiff. Lawyers usually want juries who are not legally educated, juries who don't know the legal systems are more easily manipulated. Furthermore jurors that have too much legal knowledge might be disqualified from participating. 

Origins and Development

Juries can be taken as far back as ancient Greece where higher status citizens were expressing concerns for Athens youth because they thought Socrates were corrupting them. There were anywhere from six to 501 members of the jury.

In Great Britain in the 14th century a jury had to reach unanimous decision in criminal cases with 12 members. It was common to incarcerate the jury without food and water until verdict was reached. Jurors were prosecuted if later evidence demonstrated error in verdict.

In 1852 Lord Chief Justice Loke, developed choosing a jury as it is today. Nowadays, the United States is the number one in the world to use jurors for the court cases.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

US Constitution provides the 6th amendment which entitles citizens the right to a jury trial Juries must have 6-12 members, less than 6 is unconstitutional. In civil courts there are usually six members and in criminal courts there are usually twelve members. However, this number will differ from country to country and in different court structures. The jury is selected from different demographics to represent country, state or city.

How it Works: Process, Interaction and Decision-Making

As Dr. John Gastil noted in his book, Political Communication and Deliberation, jurors do deliberate fairly well. Most of the deliberation happens in the court when jurors listen to evidence and witnesses. The assertion of self-deliberation then reestablishes in the jury room when jurors began to deliberate. 

Robert Goodin an Australian philosopher documented that jurors start deliberating within as they watch a trial. So even before coming into the room to deliberate as a group they already have a pretty good idea of the verdict.

One of the findings about the jurors is that 90% of the time they already have deliberated and came up with the verdict as they process each evidence and witness on the spot.

There are two distinct deliberation processes, one is verdict driven and the other one is evidence driven. Good to say that most of the cases are evidence driven deliberation where the jury is actually taking piece by piece, evidence by evidence, and witness by witness to come to the conclusion. Where as in verdict driven, the deliberation views how many jurors have arrived at a verdict.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

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Analysis and Lessons Learned

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See also

Early Court Cases 


Bray, R. and Noble, A. (1978) Authoritarianism and Decisions of Mock Juries: Evidence of Jury Bias and Group Polarization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 36(12), pp. 1424-1430

Gastil, J., Deess, E.P., Weiser, P.J. and Simmons, C. (2010) The Jury and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Hans, V. and Vidmar, N. (1986) Judging the Jury. Plenham Press.

Hastie, R., Penrod, S. and Pennington, N. (2002) Inside the Jury. New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange Ltd. 

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