Primer of the Philippine Jury Initiative
Written by WPJI Admin.
What is a Jury System?
It is a judicial process where a group of lay persons or ordinary people are called by law to decide legal cases brought to trial. It is people’s empowerment in the administration of justice.
What are the components of a Jury System?
- Grand Jury
- Trial by Jury or Jury Trial
The Grand Jury is:
- Composed of 23, highly educated members called JURORS;
- Jurors are chosen by lottery and they remain anonymous.
- They have the deciding power to:
- Secretly investigate and
- Indict crime offenders in court.
- They decide with a fixed majority rule by secret ballot.
The Importance of a Grand Jury in a Justice system are:
- Most importantly, they can indict any politician or powerful public official like the PRESIDENT OF THE COUNTRY (past or present).
- Those who have served for jury service (grand or trial) will become examples and teachers to their own family members, friends and neighbours.
- This will gradually lead to our political maturity and sophistication.
The Jury Trial is:
- Composed of 12 ordinary citizens, 21 years old and above, of average intelligence, who are randomly selected from the electoral register to participate in deciding serious civil or criminal cases.
- They do not have to be professionals. The sitting jurors should be educated enough to be able to process simple facts. They also remain anonymous.
- They decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent with a fixed majority rule by secret ballot. Their decision is final!
The role of the judge is to preside, supervise and protect the jurors but shall not participate in the deliberation or deciding a case with the jury.
What countries have Jury System?
The United States of America (USA), England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and at least 46 other democratic countries and dependencies around the globe have adopted jury systems. Even Russia, a communist country, has also adopted a jury system.
Why does the Philippines not have a Jury System?
The USA has always had a Jury System. After the Spanish-American War the USA took Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain. In both conquered countries the US Constitution was then imported and used.
Because in the Philippines there was an uprising against the USA that lasted for several years, so the Americans naturally felt that importing a Jury System would not be in their own interests. The excuse our early colonisers gave were: that the Filipinos are not sophisticated, politically mature and educated enough.
And so it has remained until now.