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Instructing the Jury and Humpty Dumpty Justice (From Jury in Criminal Trials, P 33-46, 1986 -- See NCJ-109095)

NCJ Number
I Potas
Date Published
14 pages
The New South Wales Law Reform Commission (Australia) concluded that no fundamental reforms are needed in the current jury system because it serves the fundamental values and ideals of the system. However, if the system is to preserve public confidence, jurors must fully appreciate their part in the trial process and be capable of understanding what is presented to them.
One way to achieve this end is to simplify the law itself. Another approach is the use of standardized jury instructions. In addition, it is important that communications of all trial actors be aimed at increasing the understanding of the evidence and the issues. Judges and expert witnesses must address jurors in terms that are clear, precise, unambiguous, and understandable. Regardless of the intellectual capacity of the jurors, simple language describing simple concepts will be the least likely to be misunderstood. The development of guideline instructions and a more concerted effort to improve communication will ensure the success of the jury trial system. 50 footnotes.