The BBC ran a story yesterday about the effectiveness of the jury system. A two year research programme looking at 68,000 verdicts has been undertaken.
They came up with the following statistics:
70% of jurors said they understood the judge’s instructions.
31% of jurors actually could recall the judge’s instructions.
48% of jurors could recall the judge’s instructions when they were written down.
Overall the system was believed to be fair.
As a result the Judicial Studies Board now recommends that written instructions are given to juries.
This lead me to a number of observations:
1. What people say they will remember and what they do are two very different things.
2. If you want somebody to remember something write it down for them.
3. The Judges instructions are irrelevant (the system was shown to be fair despite the fact that only 31% of jurors could remember the instructions).
OK, perhaps the last point was a little contentious.
The real point? If it seems like a sensible thing to do (writing down the instructions) maybe it is better to get on with it than waiting for 2 years of analysis.