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Juries in the 21st Century

Juries in the 21st Century

By Jacqueline Horan


Cover illustration: 'The Trial' 1960 - by David F G Boyd - OAM
Oil painting on canvas 152.4 x 213.3 cm - The University of Melbourne Art Collection
Reproduced courtesy of Lucinda and Cassandra Boyd

This book provides a broad understanding of and critical thinking about the contemporary jury system. It fills a void of easily accessible knowledge about how jury trials work and how jury research assists us to formulate new ways to improve the system. Current issues challenging the jury system, such as the impact that technology is having on jury trials, are discussed.

Juries in the 21st Century is designed to inform jury practitioners (judges, barristers, instructing solicitors, and forensic experts) about what constitutes best practice for them. It details how other jurisdictions are dealing with issues within their jury systems and allows jury practitioners to understand which practices are based upon fact and which are based on habit, anecdote and other misconceptions.

It encourages jury practitioners and law reformers to consider new approaches in order to improve jury communication.

Teachers and researchers in law, psychology, criminology and sociology should find this cross-disciplinary book useful as it synthesises the current state of jury research. To curious members of the public who have or would like to serve on a jury, this book will provide you with insight into jury trials and jury room dynamics. 


** In the News... Juror charged with ‘playing detective’, 14 January 2014, The Age. Read full article...


Foreword by The Hon T F Bathurst, Chief Justice of NSW
Introduction - Juries in the 21st Century
Who are the Jurors - How are they selected and what are their capabilities?
Do Jurors Cope with the Complexity of Contemporary Trials?
Juror Comprehension Research
Expert Evidence: Science and Technology in the Courtroom
The Detective Juror
Prejudicial Publicity and the Jury
Jury Communication in the Twenty-First Century


Dr Horan manages to tackle the impact of technological innovation and social media on the jury system in a manner that will remain relevant through the years of change to come. I fear I have no choice, therefore, but to resort to superlatives in describing this work. This book is the most timely, accomplished and not-at-all-foolhardy contribution to the study of juries in Australia this century. Read full review...

The Hon T F Bathurst, Chief Justice of NSW, Hearsay, December 2012

Dr Horan has written a sophisticated, carefully reasoned and thoroughly sound text that presents a new, and refreshingly different, approach to our understanding of the contemporary role of the jury in our criminal justice system. It puts forward a distillation of some of the best thinking on the subject, and points the way towards legal reforms that are urgently needed.

Justice Mark Weinberg, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria

Taking a decidedly interdisciplinary perspective, blending law and relevant jury research, in Juries in the 21st Century, Dr. Horan summarises what we know about Australian juries and the challenges the law faces. Showing that contemporary Australian jurors are generally smart, well-educated, and capable of learning, Dr. Horan concludes that the modern jury is capable of meeting the challenge of deciding increasingly complex cases in the modern digital media era. She argues, however, that legal and judicial practice need to be adapted to embrace technology in order to improve the jury system. This highly readable and timely book will be equally appealing and useful to lawyers, judges, students of both law and social science, jury researchers -- and indeed anyone with an interest in this most important aspect of our legal system.

Professor James R P Ogloff, FAPS Director, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science Monash University and Forensicare

Horan's Juries in the 21st Century is an accessibly written book that provides a range of information about the contemporary jury system, identifies problems and indicates potential solutions in respect of the difficulties affecting the role of jurors in Australia. It is based upon simulation studies from psychologists about juror decision-making, surveys and interrogations of jurors, reviews of relevant literature and case law, and interviews with judges and litigation lawyers. It is a rare portal into the real world of jurors. Juries in the 21st Century is well researched and practical. Information that it provides would be of benefit to all barristers and litigation solicitors, if only to disabuse them of assumptions which may not be empirically justified. It can be warmly commended to all with an interest in the functioning of modern litigation involving juries, as well as those committed to procedural reforms directed to improving contemporary litigation processes that incorporate jurors. Read full review...

Ian Freckelton QC, Journal of Law and Medicine, August 2014

Horan's book makes a useful contribution to the legal literature on juries. It suggests many practical changes that could improve juror comprehension. As one of the few books to discuss how technology is changing the jury system, it also highlights both the benefits of technology and the real problems that it is creating for the conduct of trials. Read full review...

Vanessa MacDonnell, Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, June 2014

Horan does not appear to have missed any major issue relating to the use of juries in contemporary Australian litigation. In relation to each of these, Horan adopts a sophisticated critical perspective … Horan does not merely make these criticisms. Rather, her response is to provide a range of considered, concrete proposals to reform courtroom practice to improve juror comprehension. This indicates another aspect of the ambitious nature of Horan’s book. Horan has produced a book that effectively incorporates the most up-to-date research on juries into an analysis of the most pressing issues currently relating to juries, and presents it in a way that is academically sound and accessible to a wide audience. Read full review...

David Rolph, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, November 2013

The common law jury system has functioned for centuries, beginning as a fact finding institution undertaken by those with local knowledge, and transforming into a system in which local knowledge became a disqualifying factor. By the 20th century, it was functioning satisfactorily as a representative institution – even women were allowed to serve. Jurors were obedient, often poorly educated and not computer literate; and trials frequently lasted only a week or two. If jurors had read newspaper accounts of the case in which they were empanelled, they usually had done so months before the trial and were unlikely to recall any prejudicial material.
          The internet era has revolutionised aspects of the system. Jurors who are used to resorting to search engines will be tempted to do so during the trial. They prefer an interactive rather than a passive role and visual rather than verbal presentation. Long revered as a fair institution which has enabled a representative lay body to achieve justice in accordance with current community values, the system may well be under threat.
          Some of the factors which imperil the system are the increasing length and complexity of trials, improved education, use of the internet and different methods of processing information. Jurors, used to pursuing their own researches, may disregard “don’t research” instructions from the bench. These detective jurors (or sleuths) need emphatic reminders to decide the case purely on the evidence given in court; they need to be told that “don’t research” instructions are based on fairness to the parties who are entitled to have the opportunity to meet and explain adverse extrinsic aspects.
         These matters are capably handled by this book’s author, who researched the topic for her doctorate. Her diligent and wide-ranging researches have provided material for practitioners, academics and those who may have the task of reforming the system. The book is a timely repository of information about the impact of the computer age on the system, and the need to cope with prejudicial material which may be accessible to the average juror.

Graham Fricke QC, Retired County Court Judge, LIJ August 2013

Juries in the 21st Century brings together a decade of research and draws conclusions about what works and what does not in the courtroom. It presents a compelling argument as to why juries are still essential in the criminal justice system, and why they must be recognised as a participating partner and respected for their contribution in providing a fair trial for defendants. Dr Horan argues strongly against government and court attempts to deny jurors the right to use technology; the emphasis, she believes, should be on using technology to enhance understanding of complex evidence and providing clear directions to the jury on what is acceptable practice. Read full review...

Dorothy Shea, Law Letter, Winter 2013

Dr Horan carefully and succinctly distils a decade of research and tells practitioners what works and what does not. Her work is up to date: 2012 studies and cases are included. A few myths are exploded but many aspects of practical wisdom are shown by sound research to be effective.

If our criminal justice system is to use juries - and this book demonstrates why they are essential - then we must show we appreciate them and use them effectively. Dr Horan helps practitioners do so with many practical insights. She also explores areas where we can and should innovate. Every trial lawyer must read this book. Read full review...

Judge Andrew Haesler SC, LIJ, February 2013

… I remain an advocate of jury trial. But my mind could not help but think about whether our approach to these trials was keeping abreast with the times and with the increased use of computer animation, power point presentations and the like. We remain very conservative in our approach to how we present our evidence to a jury.

This excellent book is written by Dr. Horan, an academic Victorian barrister who has taken my thoughts to a much more refined level, resulting in a text from which anyone who engages in jury trials, or intends to do so, can gain a great deal. The book considers juries from the beginning, that is, jury selection, right through to the presentation of evidence to them. Juries in the 21st Century considers the results of jury polling in a number of States as well as the results of some mock jury trials. The book, generally, tries to use this feedback to guide the legal profession in attaining a better understanding of how jurors are selected and what makes a jury tick.

Let me leave you with the suggestion that every page of this book contains thoughtful material of how we can better present our evidence to a jury. I did not agree with everything that was said. But every comment that I read was thought provoking and challenged my own personal views. Surely, that is the hallmark of a first rate textbook.

This newly published book is highly recommended. Read full review...

Brian Morgan, Hearsay, February 2013

This book is a great resource for all who work with juries. It is of special importance for jury advocates and advocacy teachers in their understanding of how best to communicate and persuade.

Professor The Honourable George Hampel AM QC, Chairman, Australian Advocacy Institute, Professor of Trial Practice and Advocacy, Monash University



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Published 28 November 2012
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862878945
Australian RRP $64.95
International Price $59.95
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Law - Judges & Courts
Law - Legal Profession / Legal Practice

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