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Scottish jury research published 10/10/2019 Findings of UK’s largest ever mock jury study has been published

Scottish jury research published

Major research into how juries reach decisions has found that the size of the jury, the number of verdicts available and the type of majority required may all have an effect on the outcome of finely balanced trials.

The study of Scotland’s jury system, in which cases are heard by 15 jurors with a choice of three verdicts returned by a simple majority, suggests that:

  • reducing jury size from 15 to 12, as is the norm in most English language jurisdictions, might lead to more individual jurors switching their position towards the majority view
  • asking juries to reach a unanimous or near unanimous verdict might tilt more jurors in favour of acquittal
  • removing the not proven verdict might incline more jurors towards a guilty verdict in finely balanced trials

It also found inconsistent views on the meaning of not proven and how it differed from not guilty.

“We will now engage with legal professionals and the wider public to consider all of the findings. We are organising events around the country and I am keen to hear from a wide range of people, especially those with personal experience of the criminal justice system,” said Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. “In particular, we will now engage in serious discussions on all of these findings including whether we should move to a two verdicts system. My mind is open and we will not pre-judge the outcome of those conversations.”

The research was undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by Ipsos MORI Scotland and researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Warwick.

Further details can be found here.


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