At each crown court there is an official who is responsible for summoning the jurors who are to take the case, which will alter on a two week period.
The official will be responsible for arranging for the jurors' names to be selected at random from the electoral register.
This is an automatic process randomly done by the computer at a central office.
The people that are summoned by the courts to attend jury service will have to notify the court immediately if they cannot attend for whatever reason.
All the other jurors that have agreed to attend jury service will be expected to attend for a two week period. If the case in which they are sitting in should extend beyond the two week period then jurors are also expected to stay beyond their service.
Where it is known or expected that a particular case is likely to go on for longer than the two week period, the selected jurors will be informed by the courts beforehand.
Once the list of the potential jurors is know, both the prosecution and defence of the parties to the case that the jury will decide upon, have the right to see the list.
In some cases, the prosecution or defence team may decide that it is appropriate for the jury to be vetted. Vetting a jury checks the suitability of the jury in comparison to the trial matter.
Each potential juror will undertake a routine police check in order to ensure there is no disqualified juror sitting in the jury.
Following the routine police checks, each juror will undergo an extensive background check and political affiliations.
Vetting is only to be carried out in exceptional circumstance, in such cases that include national security issues and is only to be carried out with the permission of the Attorney General.
The selected jurors are most commonly divided into groups of 15 and then assigned to a court case. The court clerk will select 12 out of the 15 potential jurors at random to sit on the jury.
If any of the jury members know or recognise the parties to the hearing, they must inform the court. It is then the decision of the judge as to whether this jury member is to stand down or proceed. If the courts require the juror to stand down then one of the remaining 3 jurors that was not originally selected will fill the space.
If there are not enough jurors on the day to sit trial in all the courts, there is a special power available to the courts to select anyone qualified to be a juror passing in the street or even from local offices and businesses. This is what is called paying the talesman.
Once the court clerk has selected the final 12 jurors, they will then enter the jury box to be sworn in as jurors. Prior to this, once the jurors enter the court, both the prosecution and defence council will have the opportunity to challenge one or more of the jurors.
The two challenges both the prosecution and defence can claim are:
To the array, and,
The prosecution will also have a special right to stand by.
The right to the array will challenge the jury on the basis that it has been chosen in an unrepresentative or biased way.
A challenge 'for cause' will challenge an individual juror's right to sit on the jury. In order for such a challenge to be successful, the challenging party will have to provide a valid reason why the juror in question should not sit on that case.
An obvious reason is if the juror has been disqualified for a particular reason. Another reason would be if any witness, or other party to the court proceedings know or is related to the juror.
If such jurors are not removed from the jury then there is the potential for the case conviction to be quashed due to a miscarriage of justice.
This right is exclusive to the prosecution. It allows the juror that has been stood by the prosecution to be placed at the back of the line of potential jurors and will therefore only be used if there are not enough jurors.
By using the electoral register to select potential juries, criticism has inevitable occurred dur to the unfair representation of society. If a person decides not to register to vote, for whatever reasons, they cannot become a juror.
The problem arises as to whether it is desirable for a multi-racial jury in cases involving defendants of a minority race origin.
Although the relevant checks are carried out, some jurors may fail to explain their criminal past in order to attend jury service.
If there are too many discretionary excusals this may lead to an unrepresentative jury.
Ask your legal question using the box below and have a response from solicitor or barrister within minutes.