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Myths, misunderstandings and mistakes of jury research

Publication date: Nov 19, 2010 11:02 AM

Start: Oct 19, 2011 10:30 AM
End: Oct 19, 2011 12:00 PM

Location: Tavistock Square, UCL

Speaker: Professor Cheryl Thomas, UCL Judicial Institute
Audience: SECReT students

Prof Cheryl Thomas is Professor of Judicial Studies; this is the first chair in judicial studies in the United Kingdom. She is also Director of the UCL Jury Project and Co-Director of the UCL Judicial Institute (with Professor Dame Hazel Genn). A specialist in judicial studies, she has conducted ground-breaking research in the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions on juries, judicial decision-making, the role of diversity in the justice system, and the appointment and training of judges. 

Professor Thomas is the country's leading expert on juries, and her seminar covered aspects from her pioneering research in this area. She has pioneered the study of jury decision making in the criminal courts, using an innovative approach that combines case simulation with real jurors at Crown Courts, large-scale analysis of actual jury verdicts and post-verdict interviews with jurors. Her groundbreaking study, Diversity and Fairness in the Jury System (2007), was the first study ever conducted in the UK on race and jury decision-making and the first study in over 15 years on the representative nature of jury service in England and Wales . 

The recently published follow-up study, Are Juries Fair? (2010), tackles sensitive and controversial issues about the fairness of jury decision-making for the first time in this country. It examines whether all-White juries discriminate against Black and minority ethnic defendants, whether juries rarely convict on certain offences or at certain courts, whether jurors understand legal directions, are aware of media coverage of their cases or look for information on the internet about their cases during trial. The empirical study involved over 1000 serving jurors in three areas of the country and over 68,000 jury verdicts across all Crown Courts in England and Wales.