Jury selection

A jury consists of 12 people chosen at random from a group of more than 12 people brought into court to form the ‘jury in waiting’.

The Juries Act 1974 sets out who is eligible for jury service in the U.K. and The Criminal Justice Act 1988  increased age eligibility to 70 from 65. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 made further amendments to the law regarding jury service. For more details see jury qualifications.

The Jury Central Summoning Bureau will select names by computer or manually from the list of electors eligible for a particular area.

A letter is sent to those selected and those summonsed have to inform the court if they have a right to be excused or are ineligible or disqualified.

All other selected jurors must attend court unless excused at the court official's discretion for illness or pre-booked holidays.

Once at court the selected jurors are split into groups.  When a jury is required for a trial a group of 15 to 20 will be sent to that court. They are known as the jury in waiting.  For some complicated cases that may last some time, up to as many as 50 potential jurors may be required.  Any jurors not selected will be sent back to the pool of potential jurors for other cases.

The names of the defendants will be read out and the names of witnesses may be read out so that potential jurors can declare if the defendants or any of the witnesses are known to them.  The names of the individual potential jurors will then be written on cards and these will be used to select 12 names at random to sit on the jury.

A juror can be challenged as follows:

Stand by for the Crown - The prosecution can challenge a juror without having to give a reason but should only be used to remove ‘a manifestly unsuitable’ juror and if the defence agrees, or in certain terrorist or security trials.

Challenge for cause - The defence or prosecution can challenge 'for cause' and is most likely to be if the juror is personally known it can not be on the grounds of race, religion, political beliefs or occupation.

Challenge to the array - Both parties are able to challenge the whole jury on the basis that it has been improperly selected by the summoning officer. This would be highly unlikely now as jurors are selected randomly by computer.

The Judge can use his discretionary power to remove a juror.

Jurors will also be vetted and CRB checks are now conducted automatically by the police.

The process of selecting the jury can be time consuming and may last at least half a day.

For more information visit Jury service.

Jury vetting: Legal Guidance: The Crown Prosecution Service 

Your role as a juror - YouTube  MinistryofJusticeUK

Fewer now exempt from jury service - Telegraph




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