OU research published in the Journal of Medicine, Science and Law brings fresh input into the ongoing debate over reforms to the historic jury system in Scotland.
In the first published study focused exclusively on the opinions of the legal practitioners in Scotland on whether to overhaul the current jury system, an OU team consisting of researchers in Psychology: Drs Lee Curley, James Munro, Lara Frumkin and Jim Turner, surveyed 78 legal professionals across Scotland.
They found that most of the legal professionals in Scotland surveyed would consider getting rid of the current three-verdict system, guilty, not guilty and not proven, and moving to a new binary verdict system, proven and not proven.
Commenting on the team’s research, Dr Curley added: “Some of the novel factors of the Scottish jury system – such as the not proven verdict and its legitimacy – have been rightfully critiqued as it is disproportionately used in sexual assault cases. This injustice has been an inspiration in our programme of research.
Considering the legal professionals’ preference for a binary proven / not proven system, Dr Curley said “The current research may suggest that the three-verdict system itself and the lack of legal definition of the not proven verdict may be at the heart of the problem.”
Dr Curley and his team aim to advance on the current study and use the recommendations given by legal professionals to inform future research on the impact that a proven and not proven system may have on juror decision making.