Free «Disadvantages of the Jury System» Essay Paper

Disadvantages of the Jury System

A jury trial is supposed to be one of the most democratic institutions, the judicial system, which embodies the principle of a direct participation of people in the administration of justice. It is also expected to be one of the main achievements of democracy. Moreover, it is believed that such a court is the fairest, incorruptible, and objective. However, it should not be forgotten that the lynching was applied by people, Christ was crucified by people, and Socrates was executed by people, as well. Thus, the issue is at least quite controversial. During all the years of its existence, the jury system with its advantages and disadvantages has been and remains the subject of dispute, in which lawyers, philosophers, and politicians of many generations are widely involved. In practice, disadvantages of the jury system greatly outweigh its advantages.

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The jury is one of the constitutional provisions, a type of the trial aimed at identifying all the circumstances of the case in order to make a fair judgment. Under the Constitution, people directly participate in the administration of justice through people's assessors and jurors. The judges of the people must answer the question: whether a crime was committed and whether a particular defendant committed it. However, the courts always have the problem of establishing the truth in the course of the trial. At the discretion of the jury, a verdict guilty - not guilty is given.

There are heated debates around the issue. Opponents insist that this system is inconvenient and cumbersome as well as that modern legal complexities are beyond the competence of the majority of the jury. The disadvantages and advantages are opposed in terms of the social value of the jury system. Participation of the jury promotes confidence in the justice in society, limits the ability of judges-- professionals to abuse, and makes a difficult external influence on judicial decisions. However, at the same time, it deprives the citizens of the illusions about the existence of a fair trial, makes it too expensive, and contributes to red tape.

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In a jury trial, there are many advantages, but there are obvious disadvantages. The most significant and biggest of them is an opportunity to listen to several opinions and not only to the judgment. In this case, the decision is not taken by a single person. The verdict in the trial by jury is made by means of open voting, after all the details of the charges have been carefully considered. However, the competence of the jury is questioned. On the one hand, the judge-professional has a special training and experience; he or she has a better understanding of the right than the amateurs. However, on the other hand, the jury is deprived of the patterns of thinking necessary for the decision-making in the court. Comparing the number of advantages and disadvantages, it can be said that, unfortunately, the number of the last is much greater. Moreover, they significantly influence the effectiveness of the system.

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The main disadvantage of the jury system is the fact that being deprived of the special knowledge and experience, the jury could not properly understand, at least, the complex cases. Criminal justice requires knowledge. In the criminal justice, a scientific diagnosis based on the sociological study of an offender should be conducted. However, the juries often discover a lower form of the mental activity. If considering the development of the human minds, three stages different in psychological methods of work are noted: common sense, intellect, and knowledge. The jury can only be guided by the common sense, less frequently by intellect, namely the unconscious habit of thinking in a certain manner, either a natural insight, which stands a little over people's prejudices. However, knowledge, which is the ultimate guide, is not inherent to the jury. It cannot exist at a random combination of the common and extremely diverse abilities; on the contrary, it is possible in the uniform and constant composition of judges. Thus, in the basis of a jury, not only a decision regarding the legality lies, but a group idea about justice. As a rule, it goes beyond not only the law, but also the common sense. The case R v Young (1995) is an outstanding example, when an ouija board was used in order to establish the contact with the spirit of deceased.

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One another disadvantage is that the jury do not have skills that are essential in terms of obeying the law. The advantage of the professional judge over the jury is not only technical, which every professional has over a dilettante, such as greater knowledge, skill, and prudence. At the same time, this advantage is moral, namely the habit to obey and the practice of a willpower. Deprived of all these properties, people become judges. Sometimes, they are already biased by the opinion about the case that is prevailing in public or press. They are guided by the art of a protector, who is able to find a proper foothold to ensure them in their sense of humanity, prejudices and interests. In voting, they are influenced by the authority and suppressed by the confidence, with which any of them is influenced. In case R v McKenna (1965), the jury were pressured by the judge. He threatened them that he will lock them for the whole night if they do not make a decision immediately. They were comforted by the fact that others knew better. As a result, they made a verdict of guilty.

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In addition, in cases with a jury involved, such justice principle as the competitiveness of parties is clearly manifested. Neither the prosecution, nor the defence can afford to relax. They scrutinize the case, build their course of conduct, and prepare for the interrogation and investigation of all evidences in the debate. It is caused by the fact that in its judgments, the jury is too amenable to the voice of the senses, especially the sense of compassion. This domination of feelings over reason that constitutes the main feature of the jury is evident in the direction, which the public debate receives. They do not need a deep philosophical and legal study of the subject. The jury is often acting not according to the law, but they are guided by their emotions, while making decisions with the help of the heart and the voice of conscience. It is evidenced by the case R v Ponting (1985), in which the defendant was acquitted. He was a civil servant and passed a confident information to the journalist. However, the jury was convinced that he had done it, because the government lied to the Parliament; thus, his actions were justified.

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Proponents of the system argue that among all forms of criminal proceedings with the participation of people's representatives, who can still come up with humanity, the jury is the most advanced, sophisticated and reliable form of justice to protect the freedom, rights and legitimate interests of innocent people. Opponents base their arguments on the fact that in the basis for the jury's decision, not the legality is laid down, but a group idea about justice that goes beyond not only the law, but also the common sense. In a jury trial, the majority of cases are solved in the private order. The verdict is made by a small group of people guided by the basic common sense, who are unable to solve complex problems which are beyond their competence. They are deprived of the special knowledge and abilities and guided by emotional patterns. Thus, in practice, the jury system involves more disadvantages than advantages.

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