The Jury System In The 20th Century

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Introduction The quote The quote cited by Antoine reflected the attitude towards the concept of trial by jury prior to the 20th century. The view then, was that the jury system was believed to be an inviolable right; one of the chief safeguards of rights against the abuse of judicial power . Lord Devlin in the Hamlyn Lectures stated, “it is impossible to understand any English institution of any antiquity unless you know something of its history” . The concept of the jury system was founded by the Norman following the Conquest. However, its early functions were not associated with the administration of justice. In England, early jurors were individuals compelled to take an oath, acting as witnesses providing sources of information for administrative purposes; to be used in what Devlin phrased an “inquest” as the King saw that there could be “no better way of getting at the facts” . But they gradually came to be used as adjudicators in both civil and criminal disputes. By the 12th Century, Under Henry II, the jury which comprised men drawn from the neighbourhood were summons to deliberate on evidence produced by the parties involved in a dispute. When a party received twelve oaths in his favour, he won; the trial jury was born. According to Antoine, “The jury system of a trial is an essential element of the democratic process” that “attempts to secure fairness in the justice system” . The jury were seeing as a barometer of society; providing a sense of
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