Juror's oath

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A juror's oath is used to swear in jurors at the beginning of jury selection or trial.

Australia[edit]

In a New South Wales juror's oath, the juror promises to "...well and truly try and true deliverance make between our Sovereign Lady the Queen and the accused whom you shall have in charge, and a true verdict give according to the evidence."[1]

In Western Australia each jury has a choice to either "swear by Almighty God" or "solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm" to "give a true verdict according to the evidence upon the issue(s) to be tried by me."

In Queensland each jury has a choice for an Oath or Affirmation. The Oath is as follows:

You will conscientiously try the charges and decide them according to evidence. You will not disclose anything about the Jury's deliberations other than as allowed or required by law. So help you God.

The Affirmation is as follows:

Do you solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare that you will conscientiously try the charges against the Defendant, and you will decide them according to the evidence. You will also not disclose anything about the Jury's deliberation other than as required by law.[2]

France[edit]

According to the French Code of Penal Procedure, all jurors must individually swear to the following message from the judge presiding the court:

You swear and promise to examine with the most scrupulous attention the charges that will be laid against [the defendant]; to betray neither the interests of the defendant, nor the interests of the society that accuses him, nor the interests of the victim; not to communicate with anybody until you [declare your verdict]; not to listen to hatred, malice, fear or affection; to remember that the defendant is presumed to be innocent and that doubt must benefit him; to decide for yourself according to the charges and the means of defense, according to your conscience and intimate conviction, with the impartiality and firmness that befits an honest and free person, and to keep the secret of the deliberations, even after you cease to be a juror.[3]

New Zealand[edit]

A New Zealand juror's oath reads: "Members of the jury: Do each of you swear by Almighty God (or solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm) that you will try the case before you to the best of your ability and give your verdict according to the evidence?"[4]

United Kingdom[edit]

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the Oaths Act 1978 applies to jurors' oaths (Part II of the act also applies to Scotland). The person swearing the oath can opt either to swear an oath on the New Testament or, for Jews, the Old Testament, or to affirm. Oaths can be "administered in any lawful manner" to persons who are neither Christian nor Jews.[5] For example, other faiths may be sworn in on a holy book of their choice, such as the Verdas for Hindus and the Koran for Muslims.[6]

The oath typically takes the form "I swear by almighty God that I will faithfully try the defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence."[7]

The affirmation, which was originally made available to Quakers and Moravians by the Quakers and Moravians Act 1838 and later extended to anybody who chooses to do so, takes the form "I solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully try the defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence."[8]

United States[edit]

In the United States, a federal juror's oath usually states something to the effect of, "Do you and each of you solemnly swear that you will well and truly try and a true deliverance make between the United States and ______, the defendant at the bar, and a true verdict render according to the evidence, so help you God?"

Jury instructions sometimes make reference to the juror's oath. For example, the Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions developed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit for use by U.S. District Courts state:[9]

You, as jurors, are the judges of the facts. But in determining what actually happened–that is, in reaching your decision as to the facts–it is your sworn duty to follow all of the rules of law as I explain them to you.

You have no right to disregard or give special attention to any one instruction, or to question the wisdom or correctness of any rule I may state to you. You must not substitute or follow your own notion or opinion as to what the law is or ought to be. It is your duty to apply the law as I explain it to you, regardless of the consequences. However, you should not read into these instructions, or anything else I may have said or done, any suggestion as to what your verdict should be. That is entirely up to you.

It is also your duty to base your verdict solely upon the evidence, without prejudice or sympathy. That was the promise you made and the oath you took.

James Duane has said, with regard to the juror's oath, "In federal court it is not even prescribed by statute. It is simply an old tradition judges have made up."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Discussion Paper 12 (1985) - Criminal Procedure: The Jury in a Criminal Trial, LawLink
  2. ^ What happens from jury selection to hearing the evidence - Queensland Courts, 29 June 2015
  3. ^ Code de procédure pénale, article 304, 1 January 2001
  4. ^ Jury Amendment Rules 2000 (SR 2000/100), 15 June 2000
  5. ^ "Oaths Act 1978 Part I". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2021. The person taking the oath shall hold the New Testament, or, in the case of a Jew, the Old Testament ... In the case of a person who is neither a Christian nor a Jew, the oath shall be administered in any lawful manner.
  6. ^ Keenan, Denis J.; Smith, Kenneth (2007). Smith & Keenan's English Law: Text and Cases. Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-4618-9.
  7. ^ Gillespie, Alisdair (2013-04-18). The English Legal System. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-965709-4.
  8. ^ "Oaths Act 1978 Part II: Solemn affirmations". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  9. ^ Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction Committee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, "Duty to Follow Instructions", Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions (PDF), p. 9[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Duane, James (1996). "Jury Nullification: The Top Secret Constitutional Right" (PDF). Litigation. 22 (4): 6–60.