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Lay Participation in Spain: The Jury System

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 14 Dated: 2004 Pages: 164-185
Mar Jimeno-Bulnes
Date Published
22 pages
This article examines some historical precedents of the various Spanish jury systems as well as the constitutional and legal regulation of the current jury system.
A current jury in Spain, as specified in the Organic Law of May 1995, is composed of nine citizens and a magistrate who belongs to a superior jurisdictional body. With exclusive criminal jurisdiction, the jury is charged with judging specific offenses through a special trial. Twelve types of offenses are subject to deliberations by a jury. In order to understand the features of the current Spanish jury system, one section of this article reviews historical antecedents of the jury system in Spain. This review addresses constitutional precedents and legal precedents. A discussion of the constitutional regulation of the jury in current Spanish law follows the review of historical precedents. One of the distinctive aspects of Spanish jury law is the mandate that five juror votes are necessary in order to prove a fact as "favorable" to the accused, but seven votes are required to prove a fact "unfavorable" to the accused. Another distinctive feature of Spain's jury procedures is the requirement that the jury provide a brief explanation of the reasons used to justify the declaration of certain facts as proved or unproved. A significant problem lies in determining when this requirement is adequately fulfilled. An unreasoned or inadequately reasoned verdict can be reversed by the magistrate-president or "appealed against" to the Regional Supreme Court. More than 50 percent of all jury verdicts have been determined to be improperly or inadequately reasoned. 125 references