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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 24-Mar-09

 


Tuesday 24-March-09

Jury Duty

There was a curious item on the news today. Juries in British courts have increasingly failed to come to a unanimous conclusion, forcing retrials in each case. In fact last year was a big hike on the previous year, costing the taxpayer over ?20M.

Juries have a duty to make unanimous decisions. So what's going on? Are lawyers getting worse or better so juries are confused or can't choose? Is this an indicator of a cultural shift? Maybe. In our increasingly risk-averse times, perhaps more people are worried about getting it wrong. Maybe also we are becoming more individualistic, such that individual jurors are sticking to their guns rather than be swayed by the majority. In any case it is a good reminder that in persuading people you need to keep up with the times and play to the culture. I wonder if lawyers do this.

Whatever the reason, it is making lawmakers think again about the use of trial by jury. I don't think they'll get to abolish juries though some might want to do this as the format has a very strong social anchor. But they could start nibbling at the edges. The news story talked about majority rather than unanimous vote, which I find rather worrying.


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