Irish Jurors: Passive Observers or Active Participants?
(2014) 35(2) Journal of Legal History 143-171
37 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015
Date Written: 2014
What was the role played by jurors in civil and criminal trials from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century? This article establishes that during this period, juries in Ireland played a relatively active role. It examines individual reports of civil and criminal trials and considers the nature of juror participation during this period, establishing that jurors frequently questioned witnesses, berated counsel, interrupted judges, demanded better treatment and added their own observations to the proceedings. This article compares the nature and level interaction from different categories of jury – civil and criminal, common and special. It asks why Irish jurors continued to be active participants until late in the nineteenth century, and how the bench and bar received their input. It also suggests that English jurors may also have played a more active role during this period than previously thought. Finally, the article considers some possible reasons for the silencing of Irish jurors by the late nineteenth century.
Keywords: jury, Ireland, jurors, trial procedure, criminal justice, civil procedure, juries, jurors, legal history, nineteenth century, witnesses
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