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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200845 Find in a Library
Title: Paradoxes of Lay and Professional Decisionmaking in Common Law Criminal Systems
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:579-599
Author(s): John D. Jackson
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 21
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses lay and professional decisionmaking in common law criminal systems.
Abstract: Lay adjudication helps to keep decisionmaking in tune with popular opinion, opens up the justice system to independent scrutiny, and helps promote public understanding of the justice system. There are two different faces of adjudication: one where the process aims to resolve conflict and the other where it serves to enforce state policy. One of the paradoxes of lay adjudication in the common law world is that, while few doubt its intrinsic value, there have been trends in many countries away from lay involvement. The reality is that many countries have seen a creeping professionalization of criminal justice. The cost and inconvenience of jury trial has played a part in its decline in a number of jurisdictions. There are large numbers of common law countries in which this institution has not flourished successfully. Reasons for this include high acquittal rates due to political troubles, and intimidation. Professional judging may reduce the threat of intimidation but it cannot altogether eradicate the possibility of prejudice. Some reasons that a professional bench may be better insulated against the risk of prejudice are judicial training and experience, and accountability. But an entirely professional bench has the effect of insulating the criminal justice system from community concerns and runs the risk of popular alienation. The jury has a role to play in situations where there may be a lack of confidence on the part of the authorities to investigate cases properly. It would seem that lay persons drawn from the community are best suited to deciding cases when proceedings are cast in the mold of an adversarial contest between the state and the accused. Professionals seem to be better suited to investigating criminal activity. The jury is in decline in a number of adversarial processes, yet there remain examples of the use of laypersons in investigation functions. 35 footnotes, 29 references
Main Term(s): Judges; Juries
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Court personnel; Decisionmaking; Jury decisionmaking; Mixed court system; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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