Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

This paper furnishes jury system information about the twenty-eight democracies (excluding the United States) that have been consistently democratic since at least the early 1990s and have a population of five million people or more (with allowance for Mexico and South Africa). I describe general rules that do not always apply to every crime in every context. In the United States, for example, we tend to use a randomly-selected jury of twelve people that sits for a single case; laws generally require unanimity to convict and unanimity to acquit. Failure to reach unanimity results in a “hung” jury, with the possibility for retrial at the prosecution's discretion. To be sure, Oregon and Louisiana allow non-unanimous verdicts in certain contexts, not all jurisdictions use twelve jurors for all crimes, and defendants can waive certain aspects of the jury trial. But the general description remains valid and I am only trying to capture broad generalizations. Still, it should be noted that most of the countries surveyed here that have functioning criminal jury systems circumscribe the level of offense that triggers a jury trial; the United States offers the jury trial much more broadly to criminal defendants than other countries, most of which reserve the jury trial only for the most serious crimes. After specifying which countries do not employ juries and then delineating which do and their preferred decision rules, I offer some concluding ruminations about my findings.

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