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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200822 Find in a Library
Title: England and Wales Report
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:121-158
Author(s): Michael Zander
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 38
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses lay participation in trials in England and Wales.
Abstract: Lay participation in criminal trials in England arises in two very different contexts. One is the jury, which functions in all cases tried at the higher level. About 70 percent of Crown Court cases are guilty pleas. The jury functions in some 30 percent of Crown Court cases. The jurisdiction of the Crown Court is based on serious cases and “either way” cases, which can be tried either in the Crown Court or in the magistrates’ court. The second kind of lay participation is in the magistrates’ court since the overwhelming majority of magistrates are lay persons. The jury always consists of 12 persons. Lay magistrates usually sit with a bench of three. The jury has no role in the taking of evidence but simply listens to the evidence presented in court by the two sides. The victim plays no part in the English procedure. The position in the magistrates’ courts is essentially the same. The jury must decide the facts and apply the law. The procedure in the magistrates’ courts is obviously different in that the bench has to decide both questions of law and fact. The judge is not permitted to take any part in the jury’s deliberations and has to accept the jury’s verdict. The rule in the magistrates’ court is different to the extent that the prosecution has a right of appeal from an acquittal by magistrates -- but only on a point of law. There is little criticism of lay participation in the criminal justice process in England. Most judges, barristers, defense barristers, and jurors consider the jury system good or very good. There are no fundamental reform proposals affecting lay participation in criminal trials. A proposal currently being considered is the abolishment of the defendant’s right to elect jury trial for “either way offenses.” The question of whether a different mode of trial should be introduced for complex fraud cases has been on the political agenda for nearly 30 years. 106 footnotes
Main Term(s): England; Juries; Lay judges
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Judges; Magistrates; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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