Notes: Jury Selection and Qualification Jury Selection and QualificationJury full notes Jury full notesJury role in Court Jury role in CourtAdvantages & Disadvantages of jury Advantages & Disadvantages of jury




Task: Watch the video below and complete the worksheet at the same time, which is attached.



Jury service

A member of a jury listens to evidence and decides on the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a Crown court trial. They are part of a group of 12 jury member chosen totally at random from the electoral register.


A jury member will receive a “summons” to do jury service which asks for detailed information about the citizen. This must be returned within 7 days. Jury service last for 10 working days. Trials last for on average between 2-3 days so jury members may sit on more than one case.


Jury service is unpaid. However jury members can claim for travel expenses, meals and loss of earnings. If the jury member does not turn up for jury service this will a criminal offence with a fine of upto £1000.


The rules governing who can qualify to be a jury member are contained in the Juries Act 1974.




  1. Jury members need no formal qualifications or legal qualifications.
  2. Since the Criminal Justice Act 2003 judges, lawyers, police officers and doctors must also attend jury service.
  3. A jury member must be aged 18-69.
  4. Resident in UK, least 5 years since age 13 years.



Task: Read the attached article and write down:


  1. How many people are called for jury service each year?

  2. What is the proposed age limit for jury service?

  3. Why are the government seeking this change to the law?







Serious criminal convictions, e.g. If been in prison in the last 10 years.

Those on bail (Criminal Justice Act 2003).


Excusal:( off list for 1yr)


Right of excusal means you can legally decide not to sit as a jury member, e.g. military personnel and those that have sat on a jury in the last 2 years.


Discretionary excusal can be applied for by anyone and it is upto the Jury Central Summoning Bureau (JCSB) to decide if they accept the reason, e.g. holiday, busy work or breastfeeding mothers.




A jury member must be deemed to have sufficient capacity to sit on a jury as stated in the Juries Act 1974. Most people with disabilities can be accommodated on jury service. However those who are currently detained under the Mental Health Act 2013 in hospital cannot sit on a jury. Deaf people are also classed as lacking capacity to sit on a jury as they will need someone to help them manage and interpret the evidence and proceedings, the so called 13th jury member.



Task: Read the following article and give two reasons as to why this may be a fair approach and two reasons that it may be unfair. Try this article as well.




A jury member can apply to put the jury service off for upto upto 12 months, e.g. sitting exams










The key point about the choosing (selection) of each jury member is that it is entirely random. This makes it as free from bias and prejudice as possible leading to the fairest outcome to each trial.


The Central Jury Summoning Bureau (CJSB) are the government organisation that are responsible for randomly finding jury members to sit in Crown courts, 45,000 in 2008. They do this by using the Electoral role of the area covered by each Crown court.


The jury member is sent a jury summons and a form to complete asking for:


  • Criminal record
  • Any issues over being ineligible
  • Any requests for excusal or deferral.


The form is returned to the CJSB who will resolve any issues over disqualification, ineligibility, excusal or deferral.


Jury vetting:


If a jury member is known to have very bias political views then the CJSB can ask the police to check the juror’s background though this rare, e.g. BNP or Communist party. This has been challenged on the grounds of being an invasion of privacy but the Court of Appeal said that it is lawful in the case of R v McCann.


The CJSB then send the jury member a specific summons to attend court for 10 working days with a start date, normally a Monday.


Once at court the jury clerk will choose 15 jury members at random, known as the “jury in waiting”, who are then taken to the court that they will sit on. The jury member names are written on cards that are shuffled randomly to ensure a fair and unbias choice. Finally, 12 are chosen from the 15 jury members to form the jury. If the case will last longer than the 10 days of jury service they will be given the option not to sit on this particular trial.





Challenging a jury or jury member:


  1. Against entire jury for biased or unrepresentative selection either by the P or D: As seen in 1993: the "Romford" jury were excused because 9 out of the 12 came from Romford, with 2 living in the same street.

  2. Against an individual juror for cause by P or D: The challenging part must give a valid reason e.g. juror is disqualified or knows, (is related to) the defendant or a witness.

  3. By prosecution only: "stand by " juror : a right which enables such jurors to be put to the end of the list of potential jurors at court, and only used if there are not enough other jurors. This right should be used sparingl


All such challenges go against the idea of random selection. However, even the current process of random selection does not necessarily provide a cross-section of society. (As seen in the "Romford" jury case above).


NOTE: There is no right to "hand-pick" the jury: R v Ford (1989) held there is no right to a multi-racial jury as long as jury chosen totally at random. This also applies to juries all of one gender.

The Law on Juries

To get top marks on jury questions, refer to the following statutes...


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Qualification for jury service


The Juries Act 1974, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, states that jurors must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 70
  • Be on the electoral register
  • Be resident in UK for at least 5 years since the age of 13
  • Not have served a prison or community sentence in the last 10 years
  • Never have served more than 5 years in prison
  • Not currently be on bail


The Criminal Justice Act 2003 disqualifies those suffering from a mental illness who are resident in hospital, or have regular treatment by a medical practitioner, from jury service


The Criminal Justice Act 2003 also abolished ‘excusal by right’. This means that clergymen, lawyers, police officers and even judges qualify for jury service. The only group that has excusal by right those aged between 65 and 70. Anyone else wishing to be excused must apply to the court, and excusal will be at the court’s discretion.

The role or function of a jury in a criminal trial


The Criminal Justice Act 1967 states that a jury can deliver a majority verdict of 10:12 or 11:12 if they cannot reach a unanimous verdict.



 Task: Complete the following question on the qualification of jurors, using the plan attached.


Question: June 2013: Describe how jurors qualify and are selected  for service in a Crown Court trial .(10)

 Task: Complete the quiz on qualification and selection of jurors in the Crown court by following this link.


Work and role of jury

What the jury do

Juries are used in all serious criminal cases (indictable offences) and have the sole responsibility for determining guilt of the Defendant.

The jury member is first sworn in to work as a member of 12 randomly selected panel who listen to the evidence in criminal cases in the Crown Court. They have no formal qualifications Jurors must be listen to evidence from the prosecution and defence for which they can take written notes. They can also ask questions of witnesses through the judge. At the end of the case by the prosecution and defence closing speeches will be made and the judge will summarise the case and explain the relevant legal issues, including a structured set of questions to assist them if it is a difficult case.

The jury’s function is to weigh up the evidence and decide what are the true facts of a case in Crown court. They then make either a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict as to whether the D has committed the offence.

The jury then retire to the jury room and elect a foreperson to speak to the court on their behalf. No reasons can be given for a jury’s verdict.

How the jury come to a decision

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes the disclosure of what happens in the jury room a criminal offence so no discussion of how the final decision is reached or what was discussed can be mentioned to anyone outside the jury.

Since the Criminal Justice Act 1967 there are 3 verdicts a jury can give. A unanimous verdict is the verdict the judge will ask for at the end of the trial.  If the jury cannot agree one verdict between all 12 of them then, after minimum of 2 hours, the judge can accept either a 10 out of 12 or 11 out of 12 verdict (about 20% of convictions each year).

The judge’s role in the case

The judge will try and explain the law in simple terms to the jury and direct them as to what evidence is important and acceptable when they are thinking of the innocence or guilt of the defendant.

At the end of the prosecution’s case or the whole case the judge may decide there isn’t enough evidence for the defendant to be convicted “beyond reasonable doubt” and in these circumstances the judge will direct(tell) the jury to return a formal verdict of “not guilty”.  This known as a directed acquittal.

However a judge cannot in any circumstances force a jury to make a “guilty” verdict, as confirmed in the case of R v Wang. In this case Wang was charged with having an article with a blade or point in a public place, he was found with a Shaolin knife in his bag on a train station platform. His defence was he carried the knife to practice his Buddhist religion so evidence he owned the blade and therefore had committed the offence was beyond doubt. The judge directed the jury to find Wang guilty and the D appealed as a result.  Wang argued that the jury should be allowed to decide on the evidence as to what a fair verdict was regardless of what the law says should be the outcome of the case. The appeal was allowed, the House of Lords agreeing with Wang and stating that no one is allowed to tell a jury to find a guilty verdict, including the judge.

Question: June 2009: Katie has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, an either way criminal  offence.Briefly describe the role magistrates and jurors play in her case (10)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Juries


Advantages of the Jury System


Long established trial by peers which has public confidence


Lord Devlin, a famous House of Lords judge, has said that trial by jury is the “lamp that shows that freedom lives”, arguing that a defendant has the right to be tried by his peers.

Supporters of this view maintain that a jury will exercise common sense rather than slavishly follow the law. For example the case of R v Wang W was charged with having an article with a blade or point in a public place, he was found with a Shaolin knife in his bag on a train station platform. His defence was he carried the knife to practice his Buddhist religion so evidence he owned the blade and therefore had committed the offence was beyond doubt. The judge directed the jury to find Wang guilty and the D appealed as a result.  Wang argued that the jury should be allowed to decide on the evidence as to what a fair verdict was regardless of what the law says should be the outcome of the case. The appeal was allowed, the House of Lords agreeing with Wang and stating that no one is allowed to tell a jury to find a guilty verdict, including the judge. A jury only have to make a decision based on what it fair and common sense and as they are not paid by anyone such as the government, they are free from political interference and bias.


The fairness of an open trial


The Public also have confidence as the jury members are not trained and are trusted due to less professional involvement. 85% of those polled by the Bar Council in 2003 had confidence in jury verdicts showing that this system of delivering criminal justice is supported by a large section of society as being fair.

For example in R v Kronlid and Others (1996) a group of people were charged with criminal damage to a Hawk Fighter Plane. They did so because the plane was going to be sold to the Indonesian government, and there was a high risk that they would use it to carry out genocide against East Timor. The jury clearly believed that they were morally in the right, and so acquitted them.

The jury decide the case in an open court so there can be no bias or no perception of bias in giving their verdict as any member of the public can watch. As it is a public duty for which jury members do not get paid their verdicts are seen as apolitical.



Jury Equity

The jury only has to decide the case on their view of what is fair so unlike judges and lawyers the law is not as important. The word equity is simply another term for fair.

For example in the case of R v Ponting The case revolved around the Falklands conflict and the sinking of an Argentinian ship called the Belgrano, by a UK submarine. Clive Ponting, who had worked at the Ministry of Defence, walked free from court after a jury cleared him of breaking the Official Secrets Act. Ponting had been charged with leaking an internal MoD document concerning the General Belgrano, the Argentinian cruiser which British forces sank during the 1982 Falklands War, killing 360 people.

The government line had been that the Belgrano was threatening British lives when it was sunk. But the document leaked by Ponting indicated it was sailing out of the exclusion zone. Its publication was a huge embarrassment for Lady Thatcher's government.

The judge had indicated that the jury should convict him. It was hailed as a victory for the jury system as they clearly believed it was in the public’s interest to hear about this allegation of a government cover up and therefore the jury must have felt such a public duty by Ponting should not be classed as a criminal offence, regardless of the judges or politicians views on the matter. The not guilty verdict was regarded as fair and equitable.


The elimination of bias

The jury are chosen totally at random with no link to the case. Sitting as a group of 12 cancels out any potential bias from 1 member. Sir Sebag Shaw said a jury is “anonymous” and independent and as jury service is a civic duty with no payment decisions are as free from external interference and bias as possible. Discussions in jury room are also protected by law and no reasons can be given for the verdict delivered by the jury that can be challenged. This means decisions made by the jury are as free bias as is possible helping achieve the fairest verdict for the defendant based on the evidence heard.


Disadvantages of the Jury System


Media pressure

Coverage of high profile cases may influence a jury decision because they are likely to have been reported in the media for a considerable amount of time before the case even comes to court. This makes it hard for the jury to only use evidence presented in the case.

For example in the case of R v West the first killing happened in 1967 with West only being charged in 1994. Throughout this period local and national newspapers had reported on missing persons related to the case and clearly the jury risk being influenced by this press coverage. West tried to argue that this in itself denied her a right to a fair trial in front of a jury but the Court of Appeal held that correct directions by the judge to the jury would ensure fairness prevailed.

Fred & Rosemary West video

However, with high profile cases of jury members allegedly doing their own research clearly media pressure is still a potential disadvantage of using jury members who do not have the professional training to resist such influences. See the Joanna Fraill case.


Joanna Fraill facebook case

Task: Watch the video and then give three reasons for and against being able to use social media whilst being a member of a jury in a trial.

Perverse verdicts

A perverse verdict is a decision of a jury which runs altogether contrary to the evidence presented before it. In other words if we accept the majority of society to decide the case it would be at odds with the decision given by the jury in the specific case.

As the jury cannot by law give reasons for its decisions or discuss its reasons for a verdict some jury verdicts appear to run contrary to what would be described as a fair outcome in a case.

For example in the case of Randle & Pottle v R. Both D’s assisted a famous spy George Blake escape from prison and wrote a book about the escape. The jury acquitted them even though they had admitted in the book of their guilt in committing the offence. As the jury did not give any reason for this not guilty verdict clearly the clear evidence of the D’s committing the offence printed in their book seemed to show compelling evidence to find them guilty, hence this being regarded as a perverse verdict.

Russian spy George Blake


Complexity of cases

Juries are legally untrained members of the public and therefore is some cases have difficulty understanding complicated evidence.

This may partially account for high acquittal rates of 36%.  In fraud cases a lot of high profile cases have collapsed due to technical nature of evidence and the inability of jury members to be able to understand what has happened, so they can make a judgment as to guilt.

For example a Jury couldn't reach a verdict in £150m fraud case where D’s convinced investors to buy complex financial contracts which were worthless.

This shows that for some cases juries may not be the best choice where evidence is very complicated as jury members may fail to understand the evidence very well, compared to a legally trained judge.

Task: Read the article on the £150m fraud case and complete the worksheet worksheet associated with it.

'Mr Big' of UK cyber-crime among gang of eight arrested over £1.3million Barclays computer hijack plot in carbon copy of Santander scam

Jury Secrecy may mean bias


Jury give no reason for verdict and cannot discuss any views expressed in jury room. Leaves the process open to prejudice and bias in coming to a decision.


 In a recent survey undertaken by University College London 23% of jury members were unsure as to whether they could use the internet to research cases they sat on. 5% of jury members surveyed admitted to discussing the case they were sitting on social media and clearly such research and discussion may prejudice the discussions of one or more jury members into making a bias decision unrelated to the evidence in the case.


For example in the case of R v Young.  Four of the jurors are said to have used Ouija board to contact one of the defendant's alleged victims to find out whether the defendant had killed them. Clearly this wasn’t based on evidence in the case and was only found out as it happened in a hotel room where the jury were staying rather than the jury room in the court. As the Contempt of Court Act makes it a criminal offence to reveal how a decision on guilt is made by the jury such secrecy could mean bias.

 Task: Complete the following exam question using 4 advantages of jurors.Make sure each paragraph gives a point, evidence and then why the evidence proves the advantage:

Discuss the advantages of using jurors in the  criminal  justice system  (10+2marks)

Task: Complete the quiz on advantages and disadvantages of using jurors in the criminal justice system by following this link.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lay People used in the Criminal Justice System


A lay person in this context is someone who has not been legally trained. The topic will be a combination of Magistrates and Juries.

There are no new advantages or disadvantages to discuss.

The key to doing well in an essay combining both juries and magistrates is to make sure you do examples for both.

For a question on advantages, for example, you must do two advantages of magistrates and two of juries to score full marks.

Task: Complete the following exam question following the rules mentioned above:

Discuss the disadvantages of using lay people int the criminal justice process (10+2marks)


Task: Watch the video below and complete the worksheet at the same time, which is attached attached.



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