The following are some of the issues pertaining to the jury’s performance of its duties:
· The Hung Jury and the Unanimous Requirement
Under the current jury system, in a criminal trial, the jury must convict or acquit a defendant with a unanimous vote. Otherwise, a hung jury is declared and the defendant can be tried again with a new jury in place. Reaching unanimous agreement on acquittal or conviction is at times very difficult and some are espousing a modifying the requirement for a unanimous vote. England, which is also a legal system with a jury system in place is considering altering the unanimous vote requirement.
· Judge’s Discretion to Set Aside Verdicts
A judge’s ability to set aside verdicts while often used in ways to further justice, has been criticized as disruptive to the jury process. Reforming this aspect of the jury system is currently under consideration in various states.
· Jury Sequestration
While technically the idea of jury sequestration is to keep the jury away from any information that might bias the jury’s view towards the trial, this goal is next to impossible in today’s age of mass media and communication. How to effectively keep a jury from being influenced by the outside world is a serious problem.
Other issues pertaining to the jury’s performance of its duties include:
· Juror Misconduct
· Note taking by Jurors
· Questioning of Witnesses by Jurors