John Zhuang Liu & Lei Chen
Published Online: 2021-9-14
Abstract: The jury is an institution that has evoked praise and criticism throughout its history. Recently, it has also triggered debate in many countries as they reform their judicial processes. Gathering data on 111 countries from various sources to analyse the jury as part of the judicial system, we find that public trust in the judiciary is higher in countries with jury trials than in countries without them. Countries that conduct jury trials also tend to have stronger judicial constraints on other sources of governmental power and better-performing criminal adjudication systems. These analyses reveal correlation rather than causation, but they are helpful for challenging conventional wisdom and for better understanding the function of the jury system. The seemingly paradoxical patterns that are identified — namely, that the jury, designed to constrain the judiciary, ends up correlated with stronger judicial power, and that laypeople, supposedly less proficient than professionals in deciding cases, are in fact positively associated with judicial performance — suggest an internal connection between the jury as a judicial body and as a political institution.