This article examines the practice of restricting jury service to citizens. While some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, base jury eligibility on permanent residency status, others, such as Ireland and the United States limit it to citizens. This article examines sets out two principal arguments in favour of abolishing citizenship requirements. First, the need to ensure that juries are broadly representative of the community from which they are drawn. Secondly, the need to promote integration more generally, particularly as Western societies become increasingly multicultural. The article also considers specifically Irish constitutional and historical reasons why this citizenship requirement is difficult to justify.
The article below discusses the voir dire process in a high profile murder case in Montreal. According to the article, the jurors selected for this case must be bilingual. This requirement is necessary because evidence will be submitted in both English and French. This surprises me because I would think the court would prefer an official translation of the evidence whether it be from English to French or French to English rather than rely on an individual juror's interpretation which can vary based on someone's fluency or proficiency in the other language.
The most recent edition of the Economist has an interesting article about juries in the Caribbean entitled 12 Clueless Men. According to the article, some of the smaller countries in the Caribbean that adhere to the common law system are moving towards abolishing criminal juries. While this article is definitely anti-jury, it does highlight some of the concerns that arise when countries rely on lay persons to decide difficult issues like guilt or innocence.
“WE simply cannot carry on the way we are going,” says Trinidad and Tobago’s chief justice, Ivor Archie. Along with other reforms, he wants to abolish the jury system, a hallowed cornerstone of English common law for almost 800 years and exported to Britain’s former colonies in the Caribbean. Juries, he argues, slow trials down, making them last up to a year, and clog his country’s courts. Clogged they certainly are. More than 500 jailed murder suspects await trial.
A homicide trial in Australia has been derailed after it was discovered that a juror conducted Facebook searches on both the victim and criminal defendant. Pursuant to the law in Queensland, this juror now faces criminal charges that come with a potential penalty of 2 years in jail. Here is the Queensland statute:
Section 69A of Queensland’s Jury Act 1995 states: A person who has been sworn as a juror in a criminal trial must not inquire about the defendant in the trial until the jury of which the person is a member has given its verdict, or the person has been discharged by the judge.
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.