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Trial by Jury

The UCL Jury Project’s ground-breaking research on the jury system has directly influenced government and judicial policies and practices

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Background

The operation of juries is a highly confidential and under-researched area. The UCL Jury Project, led by Project Director Professor Cheryl Thomas, has pioneered the study of the jury system. The project conducts empirical research with actual juries at Crown Courts in England and Wales, tackling sensitive and controversial issues for the first time, including:

  • Juror internet use
  • Jury deliberation guidance
  • Judicial directions to juries
  • Government reporting of conviction rates

The research has been funded by the Ministry of Justice, ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation.

Impact

The project has directly influenced government and judicial policies and practices, as well as public debate, both nationally and internationally. It has:

  • Identified the need for reform and solutions to problems on a variety of jury-related issues
  • Influenced judicial thinking and decision-making on what and how to direct juries
  • Influenced law reform proposals on contempt, improper juror conduct and the insanity defence
  • Influenced government policy decisions on the upper age limit for jury service and anonymity for rape defendants
  • Contributed to improving the quality of debate about trial by jury through wide-spread media coverage of the research

Learn more

The UCL Jury Project has been widely covered in the media: 

Sex, Drugs and the Internet

Professor Cheryl Thomas reveals the truth behind a number of widely held beliefs about juries in the UK and examines why the internet may now be the biggest threat to our jury system in this UCL Lunch Hour Lecture.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7Uoetud3zc

 
Publications
  • Cheryl Thomas, Are Juries Fair?, Ministry of Justice Research Series 1/10 (February 2010).
  • Cheryl Thomas, ‘Avoiding the Perfect Storm of Juror Contempt’, Criminal Law Review, Issue 6 (2013).