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The Importance of the Magna Carta

Question:

Discuss about the Innocence Revolution and Proposals System.

The Magna Carta is considered as one of the important legal documents in the history of the British. It is considered as the most important constitutional document of all time. The Magna Carta which was known as Magna Carta Libertium is said to be originally drafted in Latin.

There was a rebellion by baron in the year 1215 due to number of incidents such as the unpopularity with the subjects due to increase in taxes and due to his failed attempts to regain the empire that he lost in Northern France.

Though this type of rebel was not uncommon but this time the baron did not have a successor who can claim the throne. As Prince Arthur was missing so the only alternative in that situation was Prince Louis from France who had a weak link as a husband to John's niece made him unpopular for the throne.

So in this regard Baron was not happy with the rule that John who according to them was not adhering to the Charter of liberties. The Charter was formulated by John's ancestors Henry I during his rule in the year 1100 which bonded the king with laws in regard to the treatment of the church official and noble men[1].

Baron forcefully entered the Court of law with the help of Prince Louis and King Alexander II after six months of failed negotiations. They entered the court on June 10, 1215. The king was forced to rely in order to formulate a document which mentions new laws which got enacted from the date 15th July was known as the first version of Magna Carta[2].

The Jury are considered as the esteem member of the court who are responsible for deciding after analysing all the facts that whether a person is guilty or not of the offence that the person is charged with. The jury goes through the evidence to analyse the case and come to a conclusion.

Jurors are chosen on random based on the electoral list of the local area. Any person who over the age of eighteen and is under the age of seventy is eligible to become a jury. If a person is living in UK for the past five years, in that case the person is eligible for jury selection[3].

Certain people are disqualified are as follows:

  • People having mental disorders
  • People on bail for a criminal offence
  • People who have received a sentence of life imprisonment
  • People who have finished (within the last 10 years) a prison sentence or Community Order
  • Also, the Judge can determine that an individual who is ‘not capable of acting as a juror’ can be discharged (for example – they can’t speak English).

Role of Juries in the Legal System

A jury has twelve members. They are chosen in random basis more than twelve people will be brought to court then their names will be written by the court official and their names will be chosen on random basis. If a juror knows anyone who is involved in the case, in that case the juror has to mention that the case in the juror cannot be a member of that case. As the selection process ends then each and every jury members will be sworn on their holy book.

In case of the Crown Court in England and Wales where the cases that are being dealt are very serious in nature, so in this regard the judges manage the trial and maintain the law, whereas the jury evaluates the evidence and decides whether a person is guilty or innocent[4].

The members of the jury before would act as a witness to provide information regarding local affairs but later on it evolved where they are empowered with greater roles. Now-a-days the jury evaluates the evidences that are being produced in the court and on basis of their evaluation come to a conclusion. Their roles have become very important as they play a major role in functioning of the legal system.

In a case law in the year 2001 the case of Jack, Jury misconduct- Juror misconduct is when the law of the court is violated by a member of the jury while a court case is in progression or after it has reached a verdict.

In another case of United Kingdom in the same year, 2001 the case of Jackson v the state of Alabama one of the jury was release after posting something about the case of his Face book page. Punishment for jury misconduct is an alternate is seated. If there is no alternate then a mistrial is declared.

 A hung jury or deadlocked jury is a judicial jury that cannot agree upon a verdict after extended deliberation and is unable to reach the required unanimity or supermajority[5]. One famous case that would be a great example of a hung jury would be that if the case of Jodi Arias in 2013.

Case description : Jodi Ariaswas convicted of murdering he lover in 2008 although the prosecutor were seeking the death penalty it took to jury after the first was consider deadlock to take the death penalty off the table and only sentencing her to life in prison with the possibly of release after 25 years.

Jury Selection and Composition

 This is the post-conviction stage of the criminal justice process, in which the defendant is brought before the court for the imposition of a penalty[6]. If a defendant is convicted in a criminal prosecution, the event that follows the verdict is called sentencing. A sentence is the penalty ordered by the court. Generally, the primary goals of sentencing are punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. In some states, juries may be entitled to pronounce sentence, but in most states, and in federal court, sentencing is performed by a judge.

Case Description: In one of the case of Ted Bundy which is one of the famous Sentencing cases that can think of which was Ted Bundy vs the state of Alabama one of the jury was release after posting something about the case of his Facebook page. Punishment for jury misconduct is an alternate is seated. If there is no alternate then a mistrial is declared[7].

Jury tampering is a crime that occurs when people improperly influence jurors. Jurors can also be improperly influenced and sometimes by their own doing and without anyone committing a crime. However it occurs, improper influence on jurors can effectively undo a criminal case and result in a new trial for the defendant.

During a trial, a person may not communicate with a juror about anything related to the substance of the case. No matter how they do it, people who try to influence jurors are guilty of jury tampering. A classic example of tampering is bribing or threatening a juror to decide a case a certain way. More subtle examples are leaving jurors anonymous notes, slipping them photographs, and telling them information that’s been excluded at trial.

Courts do not want outside information or opinion about a case to influence jurors; the cases are supposed to be decided on the facts as presented at trial, not on potentially unreliable, uninformed, and unchallenged information coming from elsewhere.

During a trial, jurors are instructed not to discuss the case with anyone outside of the courtroom. To break this rule is to commit juror misconduct, which might get the juror dismissed from the jury, but generally isn’t a crime. Juror misconduct is when the law of the court is violated by a member of the jury while a court case is in progression or after it has reached a verdict[8].

Description of the Case-To give an example that in the year,2001 the case of Jackson v the state of Alabama one of the jury was release after posting something about the case of his Face book page. Punishment for jury misconduct is an alternate is seated. If there is no alternate then a mistrial is declared[9].

Jury Misconduct and Tampering

Introduction on juries have the tremendous power on the lives of the people. Granting them the power so that they can directly express their faith of the institution is the main vision of the democratic governance. The confidence on jury verdicts can be fair, unbiased and accurate. In the recent years there have been many concerns that were raised and the jury system and the vitality of the system[10]. One of the primary concerns was that the jury has become very inefficient and it will serve as a drain on limited judicial resources. Concerns were raised about the quality and the integrity of the outcomes that is reached by the juries.

Many  critics  believe  that  jurors  are  frequently biased,  incompetent,  and  apathetic,  and  as  such,  render  verdicts  that  are  unprincipled and  often  unjust.  Jurors  frequently  misunderstand  instructions  from the  judge  on  legal issues,  fail  to  recall  critical  evidence,  and  suffer  from boredom  and  apathy  during  trials[11]. Particularly  in  complex  trials,  jurors  have  trouble  comprehending  the  evidence  and  that  as a consequence juror reach verdicts that are arbitrary. Finally,  there  is  a  concern  over  the  widespread  negative  perception  that  the  public has of the jury system

It  seems  that  the  public  often  no  longer  trusts  juries  to  render  fair  and principled  verdicts.  As  a  result,  the  legitimacy  of  the  jury  system  has  been  questioned  by the  media,  members  of  the  legal  profession,  and  the  public  itself. Improving  Jury Trials These  concerns  have  led  to  proposals  intended  to  improve  the  jury  system.  Some  of those  proposals  focus  on  the  way  in  which  jurors  are  informed  about  the  facts  of  the  case so they  are  deciding,  about  the  law[12].

This report examines the three such proposals. The first proposal is that the jurors are allowed to question witness during the trial and allows the jurors to ask questions radically and this departs from the traditional practice and this dictates that the jury sits passively and view the evidence as lawyers present it.

Reformers  both  in  and  out  of  the  courtroom  feel  that  a  more  active  role  for  jurors could improve  their  ability  to  decide  cases  efficiently  and  accurately[13]. The  second  proposal  would  allow  jurors  to  discuss  the  evidence  as  it is  presented,  rather than requiring them to refrain from discussion until they begin formal deliberations at the end of the trial.

The  traditional  practice  is  to  instruct  jurors  not  to  discuss  the  evidence. The third proposal focuses on jury instructions.  Jurors  frequently  report  that  they  simply do  not  understand  the  law  they  are  expected  to  apply.  Jury  instructions,  the  vehicle  by which  the  jury  is  informed  of  the  law,  traditionally  are  given  only  after  the  evidence  is presented,  and  are  frequently  phrased  in  language  intended  to  satisfy  appellate  courts that  might  review  the  verdict,  rather  than  the  needs  of  jurors[14]. 

The Challenge of the Jury System

In order to simplify the instruction the jurors about the governing legal principles at the beginning of the trial , might  give  the  jurors  a  framework  in  which  to  fit  the  evidence  they are  hearing  and  help  them  decide  the  case  more  quickly  and  more  accurately[15]. Jurors  Submitting  Questions  to  Witnesses  During  Trial Supporters  of  jury  reform  feel  that  the  traditional  role  of  jurors  as  "passive  fact  finders”. It is detrimental to juror comprehension and it thought that the lack of the juror involvement at trial encourages apathy and this leads to poor decision making[16].

 There  is  evidence  that  allowing jurors  to  take  a  more  active  role  during  trial  will  improve  juror  comprehension  and  will ultimately  result  in  more  accurate  and  principled  verdicts. One  way  in  which  jurors  can  be  encouraged  to  take  a  less  passive  approach  to evaluating  the  evidence  presented  during  a  trial  would  be  by  allowing  jurors  to  ask witnesses  questions  when  the  testimony  is  unclear  or  unhelpful. 

Presenting  evidence  at  trial  is  considered  to  be  the  exclusive  domain  of  lawyers, lawyer often fail  to  present  evidence  in  a  complete  and  coherent fashion.  Jurors  may  need to  ask  questions  to  fill  communication  gaps  in  their  understanding  of  a  witness's testimony.  There  is  evidence  that  allowing jurors  to  question  witnesses  would  improve juror  comprehension  and  attentiveness  during  trial,  resulting  in  more  accurate,  fair,  and principled  verdicts.  Thus  many  scholars  and  members  of  the  judiciary  believe  that  jurors should  be  allowed  to  submit  written  questions  to  witnesses  during  trials.

Centuries  ago,  juries  were  viewed  as  inquisitive  bodies  and  jurors  were  allowed  to question  witnesses  both  outside  and  inside  the  courtroom[17].  As  the  modern  legal profession  developed,  the  adversarial  system  of  litigation  dominated,  and  jurors  gradually took  on  a  less  active  role  in  trials. 

Jurors  became  "passive  fact  finders"  instead  of independent  investigators  of  the  facts.  Rules  of  evidence  were  developed  to  limit  the information  the jury  received,  and,  eventually,  jurors  were  not  allowed  to  question witnesses  at  all.  In  a  few  states,  jurors  are  expressly  prohibited  from asking questions  by  judicial  decision[18].

 It disallowed  the juror  questioning  on  the ground  that  such  a  practice  departs  from the  traditional  adversarial  nature  of  judicial proceedings  and  may  violate  the  party's  due  process  right  to  an  impartial  jury[19].

It has disallowed juror questioning of witnesses in State vs.  Williamson, where  it reasoned  that  jurors  may be personally offended if attorneys  object  to  their questions,  and  that  this  may  be  a  basis  for  prejudice. 

Proposals for Jury Reform

Finally, Morrison vs. the State of the Court concluded that by allowing the juror to submit the question to witness results in the reversible

Improper juror influence can occur without jury tampering or even jury misconduct. Neither tampering nor misconduct has occurred if the juror follows the judge’s instructions and no one tries to assert sway over the juror. But improper influence can nevertheless happen. An example is a juror accidentally overhearing a conversation about evidence the judge ruled inadmissible in the trial[20].

If a juror has been influenced by outside information as a result of jury tampering, juror misconduct, or simple mistake, then the judge might declare a mistrial and grant the defendant a new trial. But proving that a juror has been illegally influenced can be difficult.

Courts do not like to dig into a jury’s verdict. What happens in the deliberation room is supposed to stay there. Thus, the only evidence of juror impropriety that a court will usually consider is an external communication or influence; anything that is internal to the jury, including discussions and thought processes, is generally off-limits[21].

If a court hears evidence of an improper influence on a juror, it will try to determine whether that influence was likely to actually affect the juror’s verdict. Not every instance of an improper influence or jury-tampering leads to a new trial. So, for example, if a juror acknowledges that someone simply told her that the defendant looked guilty, the court probably won’t overturn the verdict. But evidence that a juror received cash payments in exchange for finding the defendant guilty will likely spur the court into action[22].

Case Description: In this case, Juror Jane is eligible to testify that someone outside of court told her that the defendant had a violent history; the out-of-court statement is an external influence. However, evidence of what effect this statement had on her vote would not be admissible; her thought process in this regard is internal to the jury.

Each juror has a duty to report as soon as possible any incident where any person attempted to influence any member of the jury outside of the room where the jurors deliberate. A Juror must report to the court any violation they see committed by other jurors against warnings given by the judge not to discuss the case outside the jury room or against listening, reading or viewing news reports about the case. In regard to jurors’ avoidance of any contact with news reports, the judge in many jurisdictions is required to explain to the jury his reason for warning them to do so[23].

There are a number of documented examples of juror misconduct that illustrate the above principles. The first kind of example is jurors bringing in outside information not given to them at trial. In an automobile accident case, a juror on his own visited the accident site and drew a diagram of the intersection. The next day when the jury deliberated, he showed the jury the diagram and brought into the room a copy of a book on state traffic laws, the contents of which they discussed[24].

In a second instance communication was said to have taken place between members of the jury and a customer in a restaurant that approached their table and urged them to impose the death penalty. In these instances, what occurred was clearly prejudicial and resulted in the trial verdict being overturned.

There are some instances in which the rules about outside communication were not followed, but were not considered egregious enough to warrant the verdict being overturned. In one case, the jury did not understand what was meant by the term proximate cause. Instead of asking the judge for clarification, they brought in a dictionary to help them. Because the dictionary definition did not conflict with what the judge had told them earlier as to what that word mean, it was not considered to be prejudicial[25].


There have been a large number of cases where jurors have gone to the judge or other court officials after the trial is over to complain they were intimidated by other jurors into voting with the majority. Courts will not take any action at this point for these reasons. First, before deliberations have concluded, a juror can report intimidation to court officials[26]. Second, the jury can be polled individually in open court to see if each person voluntarily agrees with the verdict. Third, courts are unwilling to meddle in or speculate about how the jury reached its decision; a jury’s deliberations are meant to be secret in order for non-jurors not to have any influence. Outbursts of emotion, such as throwing chairs or cursing, are looked upon by courts as consequences that should not be unexpected and will not in themselves be sufficient to have intimidated jurors into not voting according to their own evaluation of the evidence. Finally, allowing inquiries after a verdict would jeopardize the finality of a jury’s decision and might result in endless additional time wasted[27].

References

Ahern, Mike. The Use of Personal Knowledge and Belief by Jurors and Juries. Diss. University of Canberra, 2015.

Allen, Ronald Jay, et al. Criminal procedure: investigation and right to counsel. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2016.

Bedi, Monu. "Unraveling Unlawful Command Influence." Wash. UL Rev. 93 (2015): 1401.

Browning, John G. "Voir Dire Becomes Voir Google: Ethical Concerns of 21st Century Jury Selection." The Brief 45.2 (2016): 40.

Cockburn, James Swanston, and Thomas A. Green, eds. Twelve good men and true: the criminal trial jury in England, 1200-1800. Princeton University Press, 2014.

Coen, Mark, and Jonathan Doak. "Embedding explained jury verdicts in the English criminal trial." Legal Studies (2017).

Cover, Aliza Plener. "Hybrid Jury Strikes." Harv. CR-CLL Rev. 52 (2017): 357.

Garett, Brandon L., and Gregory Mitchell. "Forensics and Fallibility: Comparing the Views of Lawyers and Jurors." W. Va. L. Rev. 119 (2016): 621.

Grunewald, Ralph, and Marvin Zalman. "Reinventing the Trial: The Innocence Revolution and Proposals to Modify the American Criminal Trial." (2016).

Hoffmeister, Thaddeus. "Preventing Juror Misconduct in a Digital World." Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 90 (2015): 981.

Hans, Valerie P., et al. "The Death Penalty: Should the Judge or the Jury Decide Who Dies?." Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 12.1 (2015): 70-99.

Horan, Jacqueline, and Mark Israel. "Beyond the legal barriers: Institutional gate keeping and real jury research." Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 49.3 (2016): 422-436.

Horan, Jacqueline, and Shelley Maine. "Criminal Jury Trials in 2030: A Law Odyssey." Journal of Law and SoPowers, Christopher A. "Textual Misconduct: What Juror Texting Means for Courts." Syracuse L. Rev. 67 (2017): 303. ciety 41.4 (2014): 551-575.

Kreag, Jason. "The Jury's Brady Right." (2017).

Law, Tricia Harris. "Trial by jury: has the lamp lost its glow?." Diffusion-The UCLan Journal of Undergraduate Research 3.2 (2015).

Lerner, Renee Lettow. "The Troublesome Inheritance of Americans in Magna Carta and Trial by Jury." Magna Carta and its Modern Legacy 77-98 (Robert Hazell and James Melton eds., Cambridge University Press 2015) (2016).

Law Commission. "Contempt of court (1): juror misconduct and internet publications." (2013).

Levenson, Laurie L. "The Cure for the Cynical Prosecutors’ Syndrome: Rethinking a Prosecutor’s Role in Post-Conviction Cases." Browser Download This Paper (2015).

Levine, Kate. "Who Should't Prosecute the Police." Iowa L. Rev.101 (2015): 1447.

Ouziel, Lauren M. "Legitimacy and Federal Criminal Enforcement Power." Yale LJ 123 (2013): 2236.

Plener Cover, Aliza. "Hybrid Jury Strikes." Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 52.2 (2017).

Reich, J. Brad. "Inexorable Intertwinement: The Internet and the American Jury System." Idaho L. Rev. 51 (2015): 389-711.

Silberman, Linda J., Allan R. Stein, and Tobias Barrington Wolff. Civil Procedure: Theory and Practice. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2017.

Smith, Emma Jane. "Guilty of using Google: Reconciling the right to a fair trial with the right to freedom of expression and addressing juror misconduct in the age of social media." (2014).

Sonenshein, David, and Charles Fitzpatrick. "The problem of partisan experts and the potential for reform through concurrent evidence." Rev. Litig. 32 (2013): 1.

Taylor, Nick, and Judge Roderick Denyer. "Judicial management of juror impropriety." The Journal of Criminal Law 78.1 (2014): 43-64.

White, Dillon Michael. Innocent Until Tweeted: How New Media Threaten an Old System, and a Framework For Fixing American Courts. Diss. University of Minnesota, 2016.

Zalman, Marvin, and Ralph Grunewald. "Reinventing the Trial: The Innocence Revolution and Proposals to Modify the American Criminal Trial." Tex. A&M L. Rev. 3 (2015): 189.

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