Jury Tampering

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Many common law jurisdictions use jury trials as a means of determining if the accused is guilty of a crime in serious criminal cases. Singapore, having completely abolished of the jury system in 1969, is an exception to the status quo. Opponents of the abolishment have claimed that such an abolishment will only expose innocent people to pressure from the Government and the Courts. As juries are not needed to explain their decisions and that they are prone to jury tampering, in addition to the fact that peremptory challenges are allowed, I strongly support the abolishment of the jury system in Singapore for the death penalty. Juries in many legal systems are not required to explain their decisions, resulting in a lack of transparency in the…show more content…
Although jury tampering is a crime that is punishable by 10 years imprisonment and US$250,000 (in the United States), incidences of jury tampering are alarmingly high. In the United Kingdom, then Chief Constable Norman Bettison and the then Home Secretary David Blunkett had reported levels of jury tampering to be “worryingly high” in 2003 in Merseyside. Acts of jury tampering are an obstruction of justice and such actions can potentially lead to mistrials, wasting time and resources as a result. Adding to the fact that juries are not required to explain their decisions, any form of jury tampering would not be easily detected. This may result in wrongful convictions or acquittals and as a result, would severely undermine the efficacy of any justice system. People may start to lose trust in the justice system in meting out fair and impartial judgements, resulting in a total disregard of the justice system. In the contexts of crimes carrying the death penalty, jury tampering can have serious ramifications. The irreversible damage done to the accused’s family due to the wrongful convictions cannot be fixed with any sum of money. With Singapore’s strict anti-corruption stance, cases of corrupt judges would hence be rare. Although one might argue that cases of jury tampering would also be low as a result, it is worth noting that juries may be influenced in ways that do not…show more content…
Although the rationale of peremptory challenges, ironically, would be for the defendant and the prosecution to get rid of any potentially biased jurors, lawyers may instead use their peremptory challenges to form a jury that would pass a more favourable verdict. As lawyers are also not required to explain their decisions in striking out jurors in most cases, the makeup of the jury can thus be heavily imbalanced. However, as a judge would be required to not let any preconceived bias affect the administering of justice, the accused would hence receive a fairer treatment as compared to juries that might have any bias towards either the prosecution or the defendant. With juries also not being required to explain their decisions, any bias that the jury might have would not be easily found and challenged. Especially in cases where the death penalty is concerned, it is all the more important that juries mete out a fair verdict. With every decision being amplified, there are extremely fine margins for errors. To prevent an unfair verdict, it is thus important for any underlying bias to be rooted out and hence I strongly support the abolishment of the jury system for cases involving the death penalty. Although the abolishment of the jury system has indeed brought about controversy, it is in the interest of fairness that the jury system is abolished. Juries are
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