Strengths and weaknesses of the jury system

The jury system is designed to ensure that justice prevails through the use of a fair trial by one’s peers. However, it is a flawed system.

Strengths Weaknesses
Represents a cross-section of the community: juries are ideally made up of community members of all different occupations, age, education level, gender, race, culture and sexuality. This can lead to a decision that encompasses the views and opinions of a broad range of society. Is sometimes unrepresentative of the community: the number of people who are disqualified, ineligible, excused, or challenged may leave out whole sections of society from the jury process. For instance, a party may challenge a certain type of person in order to skew the jury in their favour.
Spreads responsibility: Sharing the decision-making rather than having one judge to make the decision means that individual bias can be minimised. Biased jurors: jurors may be influenced by their own personal prejudices and therefore may not decide based on the facts. Additionally, they may have already been influenced by media reports of a case.
Reduces possibility of corruption: Because there are many jurors making the decision, it is difficult to bribe or corrupt them all. Majority verdicts threaten standard of proof: The fact that some offences require unanimous verdicts for conviction, and others require majority verdicts, implies that there is a different standard of proof for certain offences.
Reflects community values: ordinary community members make the decisions. These decisions are, therefore, likely to reflect broad community values and likely to be accepted by the community. No reasons given for verdict: parties may never truly understand how the case was decided.
Minimises use of legal jargon: because the jurors are ordinary community members, lawyers minimise the use of legal terminology and the law becomes more accessible. Influence of charismatic lawyers: the influence of lawyers may cause the jury to decide not on the evidence presented but because one party’s lawyer was more persuasive than the other.

See also:

Role and composition of juries