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Jury service is seen as an integral institution within the Irish criminal justice system, and is dependent on public participation, as such, it should follow that research into public opinion of this institution is vital. The current research explores the public’s attitude to jury service in Ireland. Specifically, the study concentrates on the public’s support for jury service, their knowledge of jury service and their willingness to participate in jury service. Past experiences of jurors are also explored. The study was conducted through quantitative research utilising availability sampling through 74 on-line surveys. The on-line sample was sourced through the use of boards.ie. Research to date has focused predominately on jury service in relation to the function and experiences of jurors. There is a notable lack of research into public opinion of jury service in Ireland. This current study aims to highlight this void while also attempting to inform knowledge about how jury service is currently perceived by the public.
Findings indicate that there is considerable support for the institution of Jury Service. The majority of participants surveyed had a good knowledge of the basic elements of jury service and were willing to participate as a juror. Furthermore the majority of participants who had experience as a juror felt that this experience positively enhanced their perception of trial by jury and to a smaller extent the Irish criminal justice system. However two distinct areas are highlighted in the current research. Firstly, the majority of participants did not agree with the expansive category of excusals as of right in relation to jury service. Secondly, a distinct minority of participants showed concern in relation to employer’s reaction to employees being called for jury service and fear or intimidation from defendants and/or their families both of which would influence their decision to participate in jury service. This study makes valuable recommendations for future avenues of research which subsequently could have implications for future policy makers.
Dempsey, B., : ''Jury Service: The Verdict An Exploratory Study of Public Attitudes to Jury Service''. Dublin, Technological University Dublin, September 2012.