Most jurors don’t understand judges’ advice

By staff

A worrying new report expected later today will find that most jurors do not fully comprehend the legal directions given to them by judges when they consider their verdict.

The study, based on 69,000 verdicts across 18 months and conducted by University College London (UCL) found jurors frequently used the internet to read about trials they were sitting on.

According to the Times, the report suggests printing the advice to the jury and giving them extra advice on coming to a decision.

But there was good news about the behaviour of juries as well.

Importantly, juries in the UK did not appear to have a racial or ethnic bias. Analysing the behaviour of predominantly all-white juries in Winchester and Nottingham, the report authors found that the race of the defendant had no impact on the verdict.

Juries were surprisingly likely to convict in the case of rape, a crime which is famously difficult to secure convictions for.

In actual fact, 55 per cent of defendants were convicted of rape, compared to 48 per cent for manslaughter and grievous bodily harm.

Women were far more likely to change their minds during the course of a deliberation, with two-thirds of those who change their views being women.

“Female jurors appeared tougher on defendants than male jurors before jury deliberations started, but more open to persuasion to acquit in deliberations,” the report said.