Juries in England and Wales

The English jury has its roots in two institutions that date from before the Norman conquest in 1066. The inquest, as a means of settling a fact, had developed in Scandinavia and the Carolingian Empire while Anglo-Saxon law had used a "jury of accusation" to establish the strength of the allegation against a criminal suspect. In the latter case, the jury were not triers of fact and, if the accusation was seen as posing a case to answer, guilt or innocence were established by oath, often in the form of compurgation, or trial by ordeal. During the 11th and 12th centuries, juries were sworn to decide property disputes but it was the Roman Catholic Church's 1215 withdrawal of support for trial by ordeal that necessitated the development of the jury in its modern form.Baker (2002) p.72-73 The first trial by jury took place in the court of Henry the II on 11 June 1168. It was a trial about the murder of an innocent civilian. A man named Benedict Graymond, was tried as the murderer. He had killed this unnamed man with a garden tool, unknown to us today. He was voted guilty by the jury at that time. No members can be traced back to this time.[citation needed] [edit]Criminal juries Juries are summoned for criminal trials in the Crown Court where the offence is an indictable offence or an offence triable either way that has been sent to the Crown Court after examination by magistrates. Magistrates have the power to send any offence triable either way to the Crown Court but, even if t ey elect to try the case themselves, the accused retains the right to elect for a Crown Court trial with a jury. Summary offences are tried by magistrates and there is no right of Crown Court trial by jury. During the 21st century some exceptions to jury trial in the Crown Court have been developed. [edit]Trial without a jury Crown Court trial without a jury is permitted in cases of suspected jury tampering where there is evidence of a "real and present danger" and, despite the possibility of police protection, there is a substantial likelihood of tampering, and a trial without a jury is in the interests of justice. The first date of a trial with jury was 11-6-1168 The first such prosecution application was made in February 2008. There are also provisions under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, ss.1720 to try defendants accused of domestic violence on sample counts and, on conviction, for the remainder of the counts to be tried by a judge alone. These provisions came into force on 8 January 2007. If the defendant pleads autrefois, the judge now decides the matter without a jury. In Northern Ireland, some terrorist offences were tried with bench trials called Diplock courts. [edit]Inquests A coroner must summon a jury for an inquest if the death occurred in prison or in police custody, or in the execution of a police officer's duty, or if it falls under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, or if it affects public health or safety.