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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Thom Brooks

Brooks, Thom (2004). The Right to Trial by Jury. Journal of Applied Philosophy 21(2): 197-212.

Author(s) from Durham


Recently, the right to trial by jury has attracted a number of vociferous critics with deep reservations about the use of juries, most of whom are in favour of greatly restricting the use of juries with a minority desiring complete abolition. This article offers a justification for the continued use of jury trials. I shall critically examine the ability of juries to render just verdicts, judicial impartiality, and judicial transparency. My contention is that the judicial system that best satisfies these values is most preferable. Of course, these three values are not the only factors relevant for consideration. Empirical evidence demonstrates that juries foster both democratic participation and public legitimation of legal decisions regarding the most serious cases. Nevertheless, juries are costly and, therefore, economically less efficient than competing modes of trial. I do not argue that all human beings possess an inalienable legal right to be tried by a jury. However, it is my hope that this analysis will make clear what we might gainor lose when we propose jury reforms.