Jury is undoubtedly part and parcel to the essence of a fair trial in the context of the English Legal system or in a wider context, the common law system. So what are juries? And what are their contributions to the English Legal system? The word ‘jury’ derived from Anglo-French, ‘Jure’ which means ‘sworn’. Historically, the modern concept of jury has its roots from old Germanic tribes which a council of men were used to judge the accused. In Anglo-Saxon England, the role of juries is to investigate crime. Post Norman Conquest period, Jury service was used to assist in crime investigation. The modern jury conquest derived from this custom during the 12th century of King Henry’s reign. The Magna Carta, a document which regarded as the first legal document that upholds Human Rights later on provided for the implementation of Juries, and its practice was established absolutely following the trial of William Penn in the year 1670 . The practice of use of jury in trials is one of the key traits of the English legal system and also the common law system. Now a bench of jury consists of 12 independent men (or women) with no previous knowledge of the case and the parties deciding solely based on the evidence presented in court. This article focuses on the position of jury in times of the digital era where social media is prominent throughout our daily life.
How Are Juries Selected?
The matter of selection of juries is under the jurisdiction of the Juries Act 1974. Prior to the Morris Committee report in 1972, to be qualified for jury service, one has to be a property owner. This was seen as unrepresentative to the society as whole, as property owners are predominantly men, and that means that women and young people are seldom summoned for jury service as only a small percentage of them own or rent property. The current qualification of jury in the UK is as below:
(1) Aged between 18 to 70
(2) Registered as voter, be it parliament or local