The Role of the jury

From: Citizen’s Information

Information

The jury fulfils a very important function in the legal system. You are entitled to be tried by jury inless the alleged offence is a minor one or one that is being tried in the Special Criminal Court. However, a jury is not required in every legal case. There will be a jury in some civil cases such as defamation and assault cases. However, for the majority of civil cases such as personal injuries actions and family law cases, there is no jury – it is the judge who decides the outcome.

The jury consists of 12 members of the public who sit in a box to one side of the judge. One of the jurors is selected as a foreman of the jury by the members of the jury before the case starts. He or she acts as an informal chairperson and spokesperson for the jury.

The 12 jurors in a case are selected from a number of people who have been called to do their jury service on that day.

Section 23 of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 amended the Juries Act 1976 so that the jury can consist of up to 15 members, if the case is expected to last more than 2 months.

The jurors are charged with the responsibility of deciding whether, on the facts of the case, a person is guilty or not guilty of the offence for which he or she has been charged.

The jury must reach its verdict by considering only the evidence introduced in court and the directions of the judge. The jury does not interpret the law. It follows the directions of the judge as regards legal matters.

During all stages of the trial, jurors may take notes of proceedings. Jurors may also pass notes to the foreman or forewoman of the jury to ask the judge to explain certain aspects of the case.

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