Challenges of Comparative Jury Research: A Norwegian Case Study (Utfordringer ved komparative juryundersøkelser: Tilfellet Norge)

Tidsskrift for Strafferett, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2019, DOI: 10.18261/ISSN.0809-9537-2019-01-02

SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 439

Posted: 9 Oct 2019

See all articles by Anna Offit

Anna Offit

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

English Abstract: This article considers the issue of meaningful lay participation in legal systems. The case considered is the Norwegian legal system during a historic time of transition away from all-layperson juries. Drawing on sixteen months of ethnographic research, the study included court observation and interviews with judges, prosecutors, former lay decision-makers, defense attorneys, and other participants in the country’s longstanding jury debate. A conclusion that emerges is that presumptions of the commensurability of all-layperson juries and mixed courts demand attention to the specific social and cultural contexts of the states that support them. Ethnographic research demonstrates that all-layperson juries in Norway face practical and procedural checks that differentiate them from juries in other settings, and that also reflect distinctive understandings of social equality that pervade society.

The article concludes that in the process of explicitly and implicitly limiting the discretion of all-layperson jurors by setting aside verdicts and evaluating evidence in legal instructions, legal professionals in Norway evince confidence that mixed courts of lay and professional citizens facilitate collaborative and just verdicts.

Norwegian Abstract: Artikkelen omhandler lekfolks deltakelse i ulike rettssystemer. Studien tar utgangspunkt i det norske rettssystemet, samtidig som endringen fra juryordning til meddomsrett pågår. Gjennom 16 måneder med etnografiske undersøkelser tar studien for seg observasjoner fra norske rettssaler samt intervjuer med dommere, representanter fra påtalemyndigheten, lekfolk, forsvarere og andre som har deltatt i debatten om den norske juryordningen. Et funn er at komparativ forskning på juryordninger og meddomsrett krever at man ser hen til den sosiale og kulturelle konteksten. Studien viserat juryordningen i Norge står overfor praktiske og prosessuelle utfordringer som skiller den fra andre lands juryordninger, og som også reflekterer oppfatningen om social likhet som gjennomsyrer det norske samfunnet.
I motsetning til at fagdommerne både eksplisitt og implisitt begrenser juryens kompetanse, ved å kunne sette til side juryens kjennelser og å komme med bevisvurderinger I rettsbelæringen, legger en blandet rett med så vel fagdommere som legdommere til rette for samarbeid og rettferdige avgjørelser.

Keywords: lay participation, criminal procedure, jury reform - Norway, criminal law - Norway, legal profession, ethnographic research

Suggested Citation

Offit, Anna, Challenges of Comparative Jury Research: A Norwegian Case Study (Utfordringer ved komparative juryundersøkelser: Tilfellet Norge) (2019). Tidsskrift for Strafferett, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2019, DOI: 10.18261/ISSN.0809-9537-2019-01-02 ; SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 439. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3461746

Anna Offit (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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