The jury has its roots in the middle ages. English
judges used to assemble a group of
knowledgeable people from the location where a
crime happened to help identify who committed it.
The jury eventually developed into two types:
Grand Jury: investigative, determines whether there is
enough evidence that a crime has been committed in
order to bring the accused to trial.
THE JURY SYSTEM IN We discussed this earlier, when we talked about pre trial
CRIMINAL CASES Petit, or trial, jury: the group of people who judge the
facts presented at trial.
Since before the American Revolution, English
and American juries have deliberated in secret.
The Trial (or Petit) Jury Because a jury deliberates secretly, it may
return any decision it wants, even a “wrong”
When a jury refuses to convict a person, despite
clear evidence, it is known as “jury nullification.” A
juror may not be punished for this.
At the time of the American Revolution, the
power of the jury to refuse to convict was
considered to be a very important protection
against oppression by the government.
How Juries are Selected
Selection of the Trial Jury (In the US)
Note: much of the material for this next section is taken The government takes names from voter
from A Guide to Legal Literacy: Understanding the US
Legal System, State Bar of California (2001.) registration lists and motor
vehicle registrations, in calling people for jury
Every person has the legal duty to report for
jury duty in response to a summons to serve.
However, after reporting for service, people can
often get out of their jury service if they have a
good excuse, such as financial hardship.
Before the jurors are questioned by the judge
and/or the lawyers, they will fill out a
Before the trial starts, prospective jurors are
questioned. This process is termed "voir dire."
In federal courts, questioning is usually exclusively
done by judges, though the judges often will ask
questions suggested by the lawyers.
In many state courts, lawyers conduct the voir dire.
It may be up to the judge to decide whether to conduct
the questioning herself, or whether to let the lawyers
In conducting the voir dire, the state and the In order to achieve these goals
defense have two goals:
1) to eliminate all members of the jury panel Each lawyer is allowed to excuse prospective
who have an obvious reason why they might jurors for "cause." For example, a juror who is
not render an impartial decision in the case. related to one of the parties, or has a personal
stake in the outcome of the litigation, or has a
strong predisposition as to the verdict can be
2) each side wants to eliminate those who they excluded for cause.
believe would be unfavorable to their side even
though no reason is apparent for the potential Each side is allowed a number of “peremptory
bias. challenges” — requests to the court to exclude a
prospective juror with no reason given.
Peremptory Challenges Composition of Juries
Most commonly a jury consists of 12
A peremptory challenge can be exercised on individuals, though there can be fewer people
any basis the attorney wishes, except that a in some jurisdictions.
person cannot be kept off a jury because of his Historically, jury verdicts had to be unanimous
or her race or gender. in criminal cases. (currently, some jurisdictions
allow convictions by a majority in less
Note that while the US Supreme Court has held important cases.) If the jury cannot come to a
that it is unconstitutional to use peremptory
challenges to exclude people from juries due to consensus, it is regarded as a “hung jury” and
race or gender, it is very hard to prove what a the matter can be retried before a new jury.
lawyer’s reasons are for excluding someone.
Selection of the Trial Jury (In England and
The Sixth and Seventh Amendments
guarantee an impartial jury of one‘s peers.
These concepts of "impartiality" and a "jury of
one's peers" are inherently difficult to define.
Generally, it is acceptable as long as it is fairly
chosen from the entire community and is
screened to prevent undue bias.
Jury selection is random and there is no “[J]uries are not cross-examined to assess
requirement that the jury be representative of their suitability. Once selected, jurors are
the community. obliged to participate unless they can provide
It is theoretically possible to have an all male or compelling evidence why serving would be
female jury, or one where all of the jurors are inconvenient.”
members of the same race or ethnicity. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/718076
“No-one serving on a jury is supposed to have As in the US, jurors are selected at random from
electoral rolls. Jurors are sent a summons and
any connection to anyone involved in the case. must go to court at the appointed day and time.
A potential juror who knows the defendant, a 15 people are sent at random from the people
witness, the judge, an advocate or solicitor who have gathered in the courthouse for jury
must make this clear to avoid an unfair trial or service. They are sent out to the courtrooms.
Then 12 names will be read out.
the matter coming up during the proceedings, People who have been convicted of certain
causing the trial to be aborted.” crimes, who are on probation or on bail, may not
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/718076 be allowed to serve. They must inform the court.
In the past, jurors in England and Wales could be
dismissed by peremptory challenge, just as in the How do jurors, who are not
US. generally lawyers, learn how to
However, this practice was reduced over the
years and finally eliminated in 1988. decide a case? How do they know
Jurors may still be challenged for cause, however, what the law is and how to apply it
on the grounds that the juror is: to the facts?
Inelligible/disqualified for some reason.
There is a reasonable belief he/she is biased.
Jury Instructions The instructions that the judge will give the jury will
explain, in the plainest English possible, the
charges, what the applicable law is, and how the
jurors must apply the law to the facts.
After the jury has heard all of the evidence, and
They will mostly be based on a set of approved
after the lawyers from both sides have had a sample instructions, though the parties may also
chance to make their final arguments to them request that special instructions be given.
about what the evidence means, the judge will
instruct the jury. One of the most important parts of a trial, but a
part which takes place outside of the presence of
the jury, is when the parties argue about which
instructions the court should give.
As mentioned above, the deliberations are secret.
No one who is not a member of the jury is allowed
into the jury room while they are going on.
Before they begin deliberating, jurors are
always instructed that they cannot discuss the
case with anyone, and that they must decide However, if they are confused about the law, the
the case on the basis of the evidence only. jury may send a question to the judge. Then they
will be called back in to court.
The jury may need more than one day to make
a decision. In this case, the judge will instruct The judge may answer the question, or he/she
them again before they go home that they may decide that the question cannot be answered
cannot discuss the case with anyone without influencing the jury. In that case, the judge
(including family members.) will probably just tell the jury to read the
In Criminal Cases:
If the jury decides to convict, the jury does not
The jury may also ask to have testimony read
decide what punishment the defendant will
back to it (all testimony is recorded by the court
reporter) or to see certain evidence again.
(capital cases are a major exception to this rule)
After the jury makes its verdict, the judge will
determine the punishment.
The judge has discretion to decide the
punishment within a range of penalties allowed
A jury is used only for trials.
Advantages and disadvantages of using a
jury in a criminal trial.
Appeals (and other challenges to the
judgement) are not part of the trial, and are
heard only by a judge or a panel of judges.
Democratic accountability – prevents too much Jurors are not lawyers, and may find it hard to
power from being concentrated in hands of understand and apply the law to the facts in
government. complex cases.
Prevents public from feeling disconnected from Jurors are more likely to be shocked by certain
justice system. testimony than professional judges and lawyers.
Judges are part of an educational elite, which They may be more moved by emotion than
colors the way they view the world. Jurors have professional lawyers and judges.
wider life experiences. The jury is time-consuming and expensive, and in
Judges are often ideologically authoritarian. Often most cases, unnecessary.
too close to police/prosecutors. The jury system requires complex rules of
Easier for one person to make a mistake/be evidence.
influenced by emotions, than to convince a jury of Many things can go wrong in a jury trial which
12 to make a mistake. require dismissing the jury and starting again.
Can you see any kinds of cases in which a jury For next time, read pages 123-133 in Pakes.
might be useful in the Turkish legal system?
If not, are your objections to using the jury
system in some trials universal (valid for all
legal systems in all countries) or are there
some cultural reasons why you think the jury
system would not work here?
The OJ Simpson Trial: The Adversarial
System Gone Wrong?
In 1994, O.J. Simpson was charged with killing June 12, 1994 - Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman
are stabbed to death. Their bodies found in the front
his ex-wife Nicole and her friend, Ron courtyard of the Nicole's condominium in Brentwood.
June 13, 1994 - O.J. Simpson is notified of the murders while
on a business trip in Chicago. He returns to Los Angeles, is
During the 1970’s O.J. Simpson was one of temporarily handcuffed, and taken in for questioning. Robert
Shapiro is contacted on Simpson's behalf and asked to
American football’s most famous stars. become defense counsel.
June 17, 1994 - About to be arrested for murder, Simpson
During and after his football career, he became slips out of Robert Kardashian's home. He is chased by
a successful actor. police while riding in his white Ford Bronco, driven by friend .
When he returns to his home, Simpson is taken into custody.
As you watch the videos, ask yourself how this case
The O.J. Simpson murder trial raises a number why is it so important to have a skillful lawyer (or,
of questions about justice in common law in this case, lawyers) in an adversarial trial?
justice systems in general and the American the difference having to present evidence orally at
system in particular. trial can make in a case.
the role of the jury, and the role race and class
may have played in the jury’s decision.
the role of publicity in a criminal case involving a
famous person or sensational facts.
the role of wealth.
1) In these videos, you will listen to some 2) In the third video, a law professor asks a
commentators who think that the jury in this student whether what constitutes reasonable
case reached the wrong decision and others doubt is culturally determined.
who believe they reached the correct
Some speakers clearly think that this case is an What do you think he meant? How would
example of the jury system at its worst, a clear you answer his question?
failure of the system. Others seem to think that
the jurors did their job correctly.
Why do you think that the speakers on each side
feel the way they do?