Jury service is a public duty and a failure

Jury service is a public duty and a failure to attend would result to a £1000 fine. Around 200,000 people perform jury duty every year. The Morris Committee Report led to reforms of the jury system and resulted in the Juries Act 1974 which states that jurors must be aged between 18-70 on the electoral register and have lived in the UK for any period of at least five years since the age of 13.Disqualification are set out in Criminal Justice Act 2003. A person is disqualified from jury service if on bail for a criminal offence, has been sentenced to 5 or more years imprisonment, has had a conviction in the past ten years, has certain mental health problems or if a judge considers they are not able to carry out duties for example deafness or insufficient understanding of English.Anyone summoned can apply for deferral on the basis of a sufficient reason such as exams, a pre booked holiday or hospital appointment. Due to this an alternate date is given within the next 12 months. Most applications are successful and there is a right to appeal a decision. However excusals are only available in certain circumstances and are excused from jury service for 12 months. Excusals can be made if a person has been on jury service in the past 2 years or has served on a particularly distressing case(as in Soham Murders Trial). Discretionary refusal can be made for those over 65 years old, whose religious beliefs are incompatible with jury service, are full time members of the armed forces, certain members of the medical profession or MPs and MEPs.The Jury Central Summoning Bureau (JCSB) makes a random selection from the electoral register. A ‘jury summons’ is sent out with details of time and date a person is required to attend court. The summons must be completed and return to the JCSB within seven days.Vatting occurs to check jurors before they sit on a particular case. A list of potential jurors is made available to prosecution and the defence, in accordance with the Article 6 right to a fair-trial in the European Convention on Human Rights. Vetting aims to ensure the jury are not corrupt or biassed and includes a criminal records office check to eliminate those who are disqualified.Those summoned wait in the jury waiting area until a court official calls 15 jurors who will be taken into the court, the court clerk will randomly select the names of 12 these people will form the jury. Chosen jurors must take the oath or make an affirmation to promise to listen to the case carefully and give a fair verdict.In court, the prosecution and defence have the right to challenge the entire jury, a challenge ‘to the array’, on the basis it is unrepresentative, under Section 5 of the Juries Act 1974. In Franser, an ethnic minority background defendant successfully challenged an a;; white jury. However, in Ford it was held a jury selected randomly could not be challenged on the basis it was not multiracial. A challenge ‘for cause’ can be made against an individual juror if known to a witness or defendant.


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