Rape on trial: The influence of jury bias on verdict outcome

Dominic Willmott, Daniel Boduszek

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    Abstract

    For many, the English criminal justice system is considered to be among the best in the world. An important aspect of the system’s success is thought to be the jury trial, where use of ordinary people as the ultimate decision makers is said to make for fairer verdict outcomes. But the question remains: is the jury process actually fairer? And is this true across all types of crime? Certainly, you don’t have to look far to find examples of justice systems elsewhere lacking a jury system, where questionable verdicts were returned. Yet despite being a more democratic process, the jury system is by no means flawless. Under English law it is rare for the courts to ask prospective jurors any questions to assess their suitability to make decisions in a case. In fact, jurors are allocated to cases by a process of random selection from the local electoral register and only excused from sitting as a juror when they fall outside the 18 to 70 age range or have a history of serious mental health issues or criminal convictions. This broad inclusion criteria is thought to ensure varied and representative members of the community are present within different cases. Yet with such a wide spectrum of people acting as jurors, comes a whole host of associated biases. Biases which bring this impartial assumption into question. However, is there an alternative? An alternative where just within those cases most at risk of these effects, highly biased jurors are screened out of the process. An example of one such crime – is rape.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationThe Justice Gap
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2016

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