Essay On Jury System

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Essay On Jury System



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The Truth About The US Jury System

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The grand jury may accuse upon their own knowledge, but it is generally done upon the testimony of witnesses under oath and other evidence heard before them. Grand jury proceedings are, in the first instance, at the instigation of the government or other prosecutors, and ex parte and in secret deliberation. The accused has no knowledge nor right to interfere with their proceedings. If they find the accusation true, which is usually drawn up in form by the prosecutor or an officer of the court, they write upon the indictment the words "a true bill" which is signed by the foreperson of the grand jury and presented to the court publicly in the presence of all the jurors. If the indictment is not proven to the satisfaction of the grand jury, the word ignoramus [a] or "not a true bill" is written upon it by the grand jury, or by their foreman and then said to be ignored, and the accusation is dismissed as unfounded.

The potential defendant is said to have been "no-billed" by the grand jury. If the grand jury returns an indictment as a true bill "billa vera" , the indictment is said to be founded and the party to stand indicted and required to be put on trial. Itinerant justices on regular circuits were sent out once each year to enforce the "King's Peace". To make this system of royal criminal justice more effective, Henry employed the method of inquest used by William the Conqueror in the Domesday Book. Thus originated the more recent grand jury that presents information for an indictment. The grand jury can be said to have "celebrated" its th birthday in , because a precursor to the grand jury is defined in Article 61, the longest of the 63 articles of Magna Carta , also called Magna Carta Libertatum Latin: "the Great Charter of Liberties" executed on 15 June by King John and by the Barons.

The document was primarily composed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton — He and Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro developed schemas for the division of the Bible into chapters and it is the system of Archbishop Langton which prevailed. On 2 July , a popular statesman, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury was arrested on suspicion of high treason and committed to the Tower of London. He immediately petitioned the Old Bailey on a writ of habeas corpus , but the Old Bailey said it did not have jurisdiction over prisoners in the Tower of London, so Cooper had to wait for the next session of the Court of King's Bench. Cooper moved for a writ of habeas corpus on 24 October , and his case finally came before a grand jury on 24 November The government's case against Cooper was particularly weak — the government admitted that most of the witnesses brought against Cooper had already perjured themselves, and the documentary evidence was inconclusive, and the jury was handpicked by the Whig Sheriff of London.

For these reasons the government had little chance of securing a conviction, and on 13 February , the case was dropped when the grand jury issued an ignoramus bill a finding of deficient evidence , rather than comply with the king's intent of a true bill a grand jury indictment. The grand jury's theoretical function against abuse of executive power was seen during the Watergate crisis in America, in United States v.

Nixon , the U. Supreme Court ruled eight-to-zero on 23 July Justice William Rehnquist who had been appointed by Nixon recused himself from the case that executive privilege applied only to the co-equal branches, the legislative and judicial, not to grand jury subpoenas, thus implying a grand jury constituted protections equaled to a "fourth branch of government". The second Watergate grand jury indicted seven lawyers in the White House, including former Attorney General John Mitchell , and named President Nixon as a "secret, un-indicted, co-conspirator".

Despite evading impeachment by resigning from office, Nixon was still required to testify before a grand jury. Similarly, in , President Clinton became the first sitting president required to testify before a grand jury as the subject of an investigation by the Office of Independent Counsel. The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary's alleged involvement in several scandals including Whitewater and the Rose Law Firm. Revelations from the investigation sparked a battle in Congress over whether or not to impeach Clinton.

The sheriff of every county was required to return to every quarter sessions and assizes or more precisely the commission of oyer and terminer and of gaol delivery , 24 men of the county "to inquire into, present, do and execute all those things which, on the part of our Lord the King or our Lady the Queen , shall then be commanded them". Grand jurors at the assizes or at the borough quarter sessions did not have property qualifications; but, at the county quarter sessions, they had the same property qualification as petty jurors. However, at the assizes, the grand jury generally consisted of gentlemen of high standing in the county.

After the court was opened by the crier making proclamation, the names of those summoned to the grand jury were called and they were sworn. They numbered at least 14 and not more than The person presiding the judge at the assizes, the chairman at the county sessions, the recorder at the borough sessions gave the charge to the grand jury, i. The charge having been delivered, the grand jury withdrew to their own room, having received the bills of indictment. The witnesses whose names were endorsed on each bill were sworn as they came to be examined, in the grand jury room, the oath being administered by the foreman, who wrote his initials against the name of the witness on the back of the bill. Only the witnesses for the prosecution were examined, as the function of the grand jury was merely to inquire whether there was sufficient ground to put the accused on trial.

If the majority of them and at least 12 thought that the evidence so adduced made out a sufficient case, the words "a true bill" were endorsed on the back of the bill. If they were of the opposite opinion, the phrase "not a true bill", or the single Latin word ignoramus "we do not know" or "we are ignorant of " , was endorsed instead and the bill was said to be "ignored" or thrown out. They could find a true bill as to the charge in one count, and ignore that in another; or as to one defendant and not as to another; but they could not, like a petty jury, return a special or conditional finding, or select part of a count as true and reject the other part. When some bills were "found", some of the jurors came out and handed the bills to the clerk of arraigns in assizes or clerk of the peace , who announced to the court the name of the prisoner, the charge, and the endorsements of the grand jury.

They then retired and considered other bills until all were disposed of; after which they were discharged by the judge, chairman, or recorder. If a bill was thrown out, although it could not again be referred to the grand jury during the same assizes or sessions, it could be preferred at subsequent assizes or sessions, but not in respect of the same offense if a petty jury had returned a verdict. Ordinarily, bills of indictment were preferred after there had been an examination before the magistrates. But this need not always take place. With certain exceptions, any person would prefer a bill of indictment against another before the grand jury without any previous inquiry into the truth of the accusation before a magistrate.

This right was at one time universal and was often abused. A substantial check was put on this abuse by the Vexatious Indictments Act The grand jury's functions were gradually made redundant by the development of committal proceedings in magistrates' courts from onward when the three Jervis Acts, [17] such as the Justices Protection Act , codified and greatly expanded the functions of magistrates in pre-trial proceedings; these proceedings developed into almost a repeat of the trial itself. In the grand jury ceased to function in England, under the Administration of Justice Miscellaneous Provisions Act [18] and was entirely abolished in , when a clause from saving grand juries for offences relating to officials abroad was repealed by the Criminal Justice Act The grand jury was introduced in Scotland , solely for high treason , a year after the union with England , by the Treason Act , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain.

Section III of the Act required the Scottish courts to try cases of treason and misprision of treason according to English rules of procedure and evidence. The first Scottish grand jury under this Act met at Edinburgh on 10 October to take cognisance of the charges against such rebels as had not surrendered, following the Jacobite rising of An account of its first use in Scotland illustrates the institution's characteristics. It consisted of 23 good and lawful men, chosen out of 48 who were summoned: 24 from the county of Edinburgh Midlothian , 12 from Haddington East Lothian and 12 from Linlithgow West Lothian. The court consisted of three judges from the High Court of Justiciary Scotland's highest criminal court , of whom Tinwald Justice Clerk was elected preses presiding member.

The preses named Sir John Inglis of Cramond as Foreman of the Grand Jury, who was sworn first in the English manner by kissing the book; the others followed three at a time; after which Lord Tinwald, addressing the jurors, informed them that the power His Majesty's advocate possessed before the union , of prosecuting any person for high treason, who appeared guilty on a precognition taken of the facts, being now done away, power was lodged with them, a grand jury, 12 of whom behoved to concur before a true bill could be found. An indictment was then preferred in court and the witnesses endorsed on it were called over and sworn; on which the jury retired to the exchequer chambers and the witnesses were conducted to a room near it, whence they were called to be examined separately.

Two solicitors for the crown were present at the examination but no one else; and after they had finished and the sense of the jury was collected, the indictment was returned a "true bill", if the charges were found proved, or " ignoramus " if doubtful. The proceedings continued for a week, in which time, out of 55 bills, 42 were sustained and 13 dismissed. Further Acts of Parliament in the 19th century regarding treason did not specify this special procedure and the Grand Jury was used no longer.

In Ireland , grand juries were active from the Middle Ages during the Lordship of Ireland in parts of the island under the control of the English government The Pale , that was followed by the Kingdom of Ireland. They mainly functioned as local government authorities at the county level. The system was so-called as the grand jurors had to present their public works proposals and budgets in court for official sanction by a judge. Grand jurors were usually the largest local payers of rates , and therefore tended to be the larger landlords , and on retiring they selected new members from the same background. Distinct from their public works function, as property owners they also were qualified to sit on criminal juries hearing trials by jury , as well as having a pre-trial judicial function for serious criminal cases.

Many of them also sat as magistrates judging the less serious cases. They were usually wealthy "country gentlemen" i. A country gentleman as a member of a Grand Jury He controlled the boards of guardians and appointed the dispensary doctors, regulated the diet of paupers, inflicted fines and administered the law at petty sessions. From to , Dissenters and Roman Catholics were excluded from membership. The concentration of power and wealth in a few families caused resentment over time. The whole local government system started to become more representative from the passing of the Municipal Corporations Ireland Act The growing divergence of opinions can be seen in the House of Commons debate on 8 March led by Isaac Butt.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury In the early decades of the United States, grand juries played a major role in public matters. During that period counties followed the traditional practice of requiring all decisions be made by at least 12 of the grand jurors, e.

Any citizen could bring a matter before a grand jury directly, from a public work that needed repair, to the delinquent conduct of a public official, to a complaint of a crime, and grand juries could conduct their own investigations. In that era most criminal prosecutions were conducted by private parties, either a law enforcement officer, a lawyer hired by a crime victim or his family, or even by laymen. A layman could bring a bill of indictment to the grand jury; if the grand jury found that there was sufficient evidence for a trial, that the act was a crime under law, and that the court had jurisdiction, it would return the indictment to the complainant. The grand jury would then appoint the complaining party to exercise essentially the same authority as a state attorney general has, that is, a general power of attorney to represent the state in the case.

The grand jury served to screen out incompetent or malicious prosecutions. While all states currently have provisions for grand juries, [28] today approximately half of the states employ them [29] and 22 require their use, to varying extents. An American federal grand jury has from 16 to 23 jurors, with twelve votes required to return an indictment. All grand jury proceedings are conducted behind closed doors, without a presiding judge. The prosecutors are tasked with arranging for the appearance of witnesses, as well as drafting the order in which they are called, and take part in the questioning of witnesses.

Grand juries were once common across Canada. The institution of British civil government in at Nova Scotia brought the judicature system peculiar to that form, and the grand jury was inherent to it. A similar form derived in Quebec from the promise of the Royal Proclamation of that a faithful copy of Laws of England would be instituted in the North American possessions of the Crown. One of the chief complaints was related to the jury trial, and the use of language. In point of fact, the second law passed in Upper Canada relates to petit jury trial. This was continued so that Chapter 31 of the Consolidated Statutes of Upper Canada specifies the constitution of Grand and Petit Juries in the province now known as Ontario.

Prince Edward Island derived its grand jury from its administrative parent between and , Nova Scotia, as did Sunbury County when it was split off in to become the Colony of New Brunswick. Old courthouses with the two jury boxes necessary to accommodate the 24 jurors of a grand jury can still be seen. The grand jury existed in New South Wales for a short period in the s. Francis Forbes , Chief Justice , reasoned that this entailed the creation of quarter sessions as they existed in England. Thus, inadvertently, trial by jury and indictment by grand jury were introduced, but only for these subsidiary courts. Grand juries met in Sydney , Parramatta , Windsor and other places. This democratic method of trial proved very popular, but was resented by conservatives.

Eventually, conservative elements in the colony were successful in having these innovations suppressed by the Australian Courts Act UK. George Forbes , a member of the Legislative Council, unsuccessfully moved for the reintroduction of grand juries in , but this was thwarted by the Attorney-General and the Chief Justice. In South Australia and Western Australia , grand juries existed for longer periods of time. The Australian state of Victoria maintained, until , provisions for a grand jury in the Crimes Act under section indictments, which had been used on rare occasions by individuals to bring other persons to court seeking them to be committed for trial on indictable offences.

Grand juries were introduced by the Judicature Act and have been used on a very limited number of occasions. Their function in Victoria particularly relates to alleged offences either by bodies corporate or where magistrates have aborted the prosecution. New Zealand abolished the grand jury in Trial by jury was introduced in the Cape Colony by Richard Bourke , Lieutenant Governor and acting Governor of the colony between and The acting Governor, who was later influential in the establishment of jury trial in New South Wales , obtained the consent of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in August and the first Charter of Justice was issued on 24 August Black i.

The grand jury was established for Cape Town alone. In it was recorded that it served a district of 50, inhabitants and in one quarterly session there were six presentments 1 homicide, 2 assaults, 1 robbery, 1 theft, 1 fraud. As elsewhere, the judge could use his charge to the grand jury to bring matters of concern to him to the attention of the public and the government. Justice Fitzpatrick, returning from circuit in the northern and western parts of Cape Colony, gave a charge to the grand jury at the Criminal Sessions at Cape Town, in which, after congratulating them upon the lightness of the calendar, he observed there were indications in the country of a growing mutual bad feeling between the races, etc.

This was reported in the Cape Argus and was a subject of a question to the government in the House of Commons in London. The grand jury continued in operation until , by which time the Cape was under responsible government , when it was abolished by Act 17 of [57] of the Cape Parliament. Grand juries were established in France in under the name jury d'accusation , but they were abolished with the introduction of the Code of Criminal Instruction in The jury law of created an eight-man jury d'accusation in each arrondissement a subdivision of the departement and a man jury de jugement in each departement.

In each arrondissement the procureur-syndic drew up a list of 30 jurors from the electoral roll every three months for the jury d'accusation. There was no public prosecutor or juge d'instruction. Instead the police or private citizens could bring a complaint to the Justice of the Peace established in each canton a subdivision of the arrondissement. This magistrate interrogated the accused to determine whether grounds for prosecution existed and if so sent the case to the directeur du jury the director of the jury d'accusation , who was one of the arrondissement's civil court judges, and who served in the post for six months on a rotating basis.

The directeur du jury drew up the bill of indictment acte d'accusation summarising the charges to be presented to the jury d'accusation. The directeur made a presentation to the jury in the absence of the accused and the jury heard the witnesses. The jury then decided by majority vote whether there were sufficient grounds for the case to go to the tribunal criminel of the departement. Between and there was no property qualification for jurors.

From to grand juries also operated in Belgium , [62] which was divided into French departements in October However, until the PCR's recommendations were not binding, and were only regarded as advisory. A PRC is made up of 11 randomly selected citizens, is appointed to a six-month term, and its primary purpose is examining cases prosecutors have chosen not to continue prosecuting. From to Okinawa was under American administration. Grand jury proceedings were held in the territory from until Supreme Court [67] that U. Bill of Rights. Indeed, the District Court in Washington twice held that the absence of the jury system in the civil administration courts in Okinawa invalidated criminal convictions. By article 21 of the Constitution of Liberia , [69] 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital or infamous crime except in cases of impeachment, cases arising in the Armed Forces and petty offenses, unless upon indictment by a Grand Jury".

For example, the national Port Authority's managing director was indicted by the Monteserrado County Grand Jury in July , on charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy.

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