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Sentencing and Juries

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2006
92 pages
This is the first paper released by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission (Australia) in its investigation of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing the presiding judge in a criminal trial by jury to consult with the jury on aspects of sentencing, as well as practical issues involved in implementing such a policy.
The first chapter presents an overview of the current sentencing process in New South Wales, so as to provide a context for the proposal to involve juries in sentencing following their conviction decisions. This is followed by a chapter that identifies existing provisions whereby a jury can currently provide indirect input into sentencing as part of its delivering a guilty verdict. This chapter also examines the practice of jury involvement in sentencing in the United States, since U.S. juries have had a direct role in determining sentences for over 200 years. The concluding chapter poses and discusses questions regarding all aspects of juries' direct involvement in sentencing. The proposal being considered by the Law Reform Commission is not whether a jury should actually determine the sentence, as occurs in some U.S. jurisdictions, but rather whether the judge should discuss relevant issues with the jury after evidence and submissions relevant to sentencing have been received and before the judge decides on a sentence. This proposed consultation between the judge and jury would be conducted in camera under secrecy requirements. The intent of such a practice would be to improve the quality of sentencing decisions and bolster public confidence in sentencing. It would provide an additional dimension to judicial sentencing decisionmaking by enabling judges to consult with jurors about the reasons for the jury's guilty verdict. Tables of pertinent cases and legislation and a 40-item bibliography