The UCL Jury Project’s ground-breaking research on the jury system has directly influenced government and judicial policies and practices
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.
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
The UCL Jury Project has been widely covered in the media:
- Verdict on juries: placing blind trust in them helps no one by Joshua Rozenberg in the Guardian, 15 May 2015: “Research shows 23% of jurors misunderstand rules about internet use. They need more guidance”.
- Do media reports influence juries? on BBC News, 17 February 2010: “The most extensive and authoritative study to date of juries in England and Wales has concluded they are fair, efficient and effective”.
- BBC Radio 4 Law in Action: What is the Future for Juries?, 1 March 2011. Joshua Rozenberg considers the pressures on our historic system of trial by jury, what changes are being proposed and speaks to two recent jurors about their experiences.
- BBC Radio 4 Unreliable Evidence: Jury Trial, 1 May 2010. Presenter Clive Anderson, Professor Cheryl Thomas, Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, Crown Court Judge Simon Tonking, and criminal barrister Chris Sallon QC discuss the future of the jury.
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.
- 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).