Washington State Jury Commission
Appendix 10: Judicial Views of Jury Reform Executive Summary
JUDICIAL VIEWS OF JURY REFORM
A Report to the Office of the Administrator for the Courts
David C. Brody
Nicholas P. Lovrich
Charles H. Sheldon
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice Program
Over the last decade, states around the nation have either implemented or explored various reforms to their jury systems. One aspect of the court system that must be considered in an examination of a state's jury system is the state's judiciary. This study reports the results of surveys administered to the Superior Court, District Court, and Municipal Court judges in the State of Washington regarding a number of possible reforms to the jury system.
The results indicate that the judges believe that the system is working well, but can be improved. A majority of judges believe the following items would improve the workings of the criminal justice system:
Providing written copies of jury instructions to jurors for use in deliberations
Two items that the judges were strongly opposed to deserve special mention. A vast majority of judges were opposed to the elimination of peremptory challenges and the use of non-unanimous verdicts in criminal trials.
The judges appeared to have given a great deal of consideration to the survey. Their responses indicate that they favor minor changes to the jury system, but in all, they believe the system is working well.
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