Pros And Cons Of The Jury System

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1. INTRODUCTION TO THE ESSAY
Issues of bias in the judiciary often raise the question of whether South Africa should reinstate the jury system. This question can be approached from different angles. This essay sets out to explain the difference between a jury and bench trial and the pro’s and con’s of using each type of trial. An argument in favour or against the reinstatement of the jury system using theories as a basis to work will be addressed while also analyzing the socio political and economic factors that would affect the argument.
1.1. The definition of a jury trial and bench trial and the issue of bias in the judiciary

South Africa makes use of bench trials in their legal system as opposed to a jury trial which was abolished during
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The use of assessors is optional. The presiding judge may appoint one or two assessors. The assessors must have experience in the administration of justice or garner a specialized skill that is appropriately needed. Assessors held authority with decisions pertaining to questions of fact as well as held co-decision making in terms of factual admissibility of statements made by accused. Sentencing was held by the judge but discussion could take place with the assessors .
Reasons for the abolishment of the jury system were numerous and all played a role in how juries declined in practice. These reasons included reluctance from the members of the public to participate and serve on the jury, wide ranging excuses for not serving on the jury plagued jury service and the number of people who were exempt from the jury were so vast that only a few competent persons remained .
The minister of justice during Apartheid also was able to exercise powers that allowed him to order certain trials to be conducted without a jury. A very important aspect in terms of the decline in juries was due to South Africa’s complex race relations. The jury system was not appropriate because of the threat of an all white jury and how they would be prejudiced or could be viewed as being prejudiced in instances where the trial involved members of different races
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Subsequently, Oscar was found guilty of negligence and capable homicide. This indicates the lack of understanding of the public on important legal matters . It also indicates how emotion gets in the way of dealing with the facts. It has been suggested that Oscar may get a period of house arrest and a suspended sentence . It has also been suggested that Oscar must serve some time in prison and that if he does not, then thus would fuel anger amongst black South African’s. This would be so as they would interpret it as wealthy whites getting preferential treatment . This links into the importance of having a judge and assessors that are legally trained to make important legal decisions, and to make decisions within the context of South Africa’s environment which would be deemed to be

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