JURIES

Except under certain special exemptions, every man and woman between the ages of 21 and 60, possessing (in his county of residence) lands (or rents therefrom in fee simple) of £10; or £20 a year, for upwards of 21 years, in leaseholds, may be called upon to serve on a jury in any of his local Courts of Nisi Prius or Assize, or in the High Court of Justice. There are special conditions, however, for the empanelling of juries in London. Justices of Assize, &c, empanel as they think fit—there is no fixed limit to the number required.

Juries are of three kinds— Grand Juries, Petty Juries and Special Juries.

Grand Juries.

Such juries consist of twelve to twenty-three people, who consider the accusations against a person committed for trial. The jury do not see the defendant or his witnesses but only the witnesses for the prosecution. If twelve of the jury think that the accusation is not vexatious, a true bill is returned, when the defendant must stand his trial before a petty jury. Should the accusation be rejected, the accused is set free, but, not having stood his trial, he may be apprehended again if further evidence is brought to light.

Petty Juries.

Such juries consist of twelve persons, each of whom may be challenged under certain circumstances, by the accused or by the Crown. When the panel is complete, the various members of the jury are sworn and the trial proceeds. At the end, the judge sums up the case for the benefit of the jury, explaining the points of law which bear on the trial and pointing out the various pieces of evidence. The verdict is then considered, either in retirement, or in the open court. In criminal cases the verdict must always be ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty,’ and it must be agreed to by all the members of the jury: a majority is not accepted. A verdict of ‘Not Proven’ is permitted in Scotland.

Special Juries.

In trials where considerations of highly technical matters are involved, a special jury may be empanelled, the jury consisting of people who are competent to understand the technicalities which are likely to arise. Special juries must be bankers, merchants, and esquires, but these three classes also include men possessing some deep scientific learning. Jurors of this type are paid for their attendance, and from the nature of their duties, are never required in criminal cases, except when the trial takes place in the King’s Bench Division.

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