In 2004, the Province of Córdoba implemented lay participation in criminal decisions by means of Law 9182. The law was passed within a context of national debate concerning efficient measures to fight against insecurity and crime. These debates were brought about by a social movement led by Juan Carlos Blumberg, which demanded harsher penalties and judicial reform as means to improve urban safety.
Data obtained in two public opinion studies, conducted in 1993 and 2011, are used to analyze trends in attitudes towards criminal punishment, including issues such as the image of criminals or opinion on capital punishment. The revision also includes the influence of the fear of crime on attitudes towards punishment.
The analysis of citizen views on punishment extends past public opinion data to the judicial field, reviewing how these views are expressed during jury service. Using a set of 213 sentences decided between 2005 and 2012, juror and judge decisions on the same cases are compared.
Here is an interesting article that discusses the unusual jury system employed on the island of Okinawa during the American post-war occupation. According to the article, Okinawa, which was under U.S. trusteeship until 1972, utilized a jury system presided over by American judges. (It should be noted that the rest of Japan has only recently re-introuduced the jury after an approximately 70 year hiatus) Since the trials were conducted in English, jurors had to speak and understand the language. As a result, much of the local population was prevented from serving as jurors.
Abstract:What was the role played by jurors in civil and criminal trials from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century? This article establishes that during this period, juries in Ireland played a relatively active role. It examines individual reports of civil and criminal trials and considers the nature of juror participation during this period, establishing that jurors frequently questioned witnesses, berated counsel, interrupted judges, demanded better treatment and added their own observations to the proceedings. This article compares the nature and level interaction from different categories of jury – civil and criminal, common and special. It asks why Irish jurors continued to be active participants until late in the nineteenth century, and how the bench and bar received their input. It also suggests that English jurors may also have played a more active role during this period than previously thought. Finally, the article considers some possible reasons for the silencing of Irish jurors by the late nineteenth century.
Japan’s efforts over the past decade to integrate citizens into its criminal justice system represent one of the most fascinating modern experiments in judicial reform. In 2009, when Japan formally reintroduced lay participation into criminal trials after a six decade hiatus through its or “saiban-in seido” or lay judge system, the domestic stakeholders affected by this change greeted the new quasi-jury system with mixed messages. Political reformers, bureaucrats, many attorneys, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”), and scholars were excited and encouraged about the potential of the new system. Conversely, the majority of Japanese citizens, the courts, the media, and others were much more critical. These skeptics contended that Japan’s reforms and sizeable investment in citizen participation would be futile based on cultural traditions and institutional impediments. At the same time, there was much interest in the judicial reforms and new lay judge system outside of Japan. Countries across Asia and around the world watched the move towards greater democratic participation in the judicial system with much anticipation. Going forward, the world will continue to study the country’s involvement of average citizens in the judicial decision-making process.
As the lay judge system has reached its fifth anniversary of operation, now is an excellent time to scrutinize its accomplishments and shortfalls. This paper will explain how Japan has accomplished, at least in part, the original goals underlying the lay judge system, including making the justice system “easier to use, easier to understand, and more reliable.” It will also examine how Japan’s new lay judge system has increased citizen interest in the judicial process and largely enhanced citizens’ trust in the legal system. Additionally, this paper will explore the challenges facing the system and discuss whether additional steps might be taken to more fully advance these goals, including the expansion of citizen participation into the civil justice realm.
Authors: Jae-Hyup Lee, Jisuk Woo, June Woong Rhee, Jeong Min Choi, and Hyunki Shin
This paper looked into the jury deliberation process by examining shadow jury deliberations in 18 actual cases between November 2010 and July 2011 in Korea. Based on the direct observation and the content analysis of the videotaped deliberation, we examined four key areas in jury deliberation in order to gain insights and implications for the institutional design of the jury system: (1) the binding effect of the jury verdict, (2) the number of jurors, (3) the jurors’ deliberations regarding both conviction and sentencing, and (4) the judge’s intervention in jury deliberation.
The results demonstrate that the shadow jurors in general actively participated in the deliberation process by speaking in turn, and were respectful toward other jurors in debate. The jury forepersons positively played their role by giving jurors equal chance to talk and managed the discussion well. Misunderstanding of law and the intermingling of facts relevant to conviction or sentencing were not as frequent as many people expected: when such problems occurred, they were most often corrected through the intervention of other jurors or judges. Most judges were helpful in jurors’ reaching a verdict in the jury room. Also there was no definitive relationship between the size of the jury and the quality of deliberation. On the other hand, the shadow jurors tended to state their initial positions early in the deliberation process without fully discussing the issues first. They oftentimes made arguments not based on evidence. In addition, jurors’ emotions affected decision-making in some instances.
Although encouraging aspects as well as areas for improvement coexist, the overall quality of jury deliberation in Korea, as evidenced by this study, is positive. Over time, the Korean jury system is expected to be firmly established as a robust institution to increase democratic participation of the lay people and to enhance the credibility of the judiciary.
The British article below talks about an interesting concept that I don't believe exists in the United States. According to the article, certain insurance policies in Britain will pay you for lost employment wages while serving as a juror.
Julia Davis of the University of South Australia - School of Law
Brit. J. Criminol. (2012) 52, 93-112
Abstract: This paper reports the findings of an innovative method of ascertaining public opinion about sentencing — namely using jurors in actual cases to explore both the appropriateness of the sentence imposed in the juror’s trial and more general views about sentencing levels. Contrasting images of public opinion emerged: a punitive public in relation to general perceptions of leniency and a more merciful public in relation to individual cases. The extent and reasons for this dichotomy are explored, as are differences in levels of satisfaction for different offense types.
Dr. Theodora Dallas, a former juror from England, who was convicted of contempt in 2011 and sentenced to six months incarceration, is now taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights. Previously, Dallas unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which refused to hear her case finding that it did not raise "an arguable point of law." As a result, Dallas has already served three months of her six-month sentence.
In her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, Dallas, a non-native English speaker, argues that since she was not provided proper jury instructions her conviction for contempt should be overturned. Her conviction arose after the court discovered that Dallas used the internet to define the term grievous and to look up the defendant's record.
In sentencing Dallas to six months confinement, the trial judge determined that misuse of the internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity, and an effective custodial sentence is virtually inevitable. The objective of such a sentence is to ensure that the integrity of the process of trial by jury is sustained.
The judge in this case also declared a mistrial or "abandoned trial" because of Dallas' actions.