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Jurors' Perceptions, Understanding, Confidence and Satisfaction in the Jury System: A Study in Six Courts

NCJ Number
Roger Matthews; Lynn Hancock; Daniel Briggs
Date Published
4 pages
This study looked at the views and attitudes of a sample of jurors who had recently completed jury service in six English courts.
Juries are often seen as the cornerstones of the criminal justice system in England and Wales. This study examined the perceptions, understanding, confidence, and satisfaction of a sample of jurors who had recently completed jury service in six Crown Court centers. A survey was conducted between October 2001 and October 2002 on a sample of 361 jurors. Jurors were interviewed either by telephone or in face-to-face interviews on the court premises, following their completion of service. The study specifically looked at: juror’s perceptions and attitudes towards jury service; their understanding of the information and the evidence they received; jurors’ confidence as a result of their contact with the court system; and their satisfaction with the process in general. Analysis of the data revealed that the majority of the respondents had a more positive view of the jury trial system after completing their service than they did before. In addition, confidence in the jury system was closely associated with the perceived fairness of the process, adherence to due process, respect for the rights of the defendants, and above all, the diversity of the jury and its ability to consider evidence from different perspectives. Jurors were also impressed with the professionalism and helpfulness of the court personnel, in particular, the performance, commitment, and competence of the judges. The jurors felt that the main impediment to understanding proceedings was the use of legal terminology, and that evidence could be presented more clearly. Finally, over half of the respondents said that they would be happy to perform jury service again, while 19 percent said they “would not mind” doing it again. Clearly, for the vast majority of the respondents in this survey, juries are seen as an essential component of providing a fair and just trial process, and the diversity of the jury is seen as the best way of avoiding bias and arriving at a sound verdict. 5 references