This chapter discusses how cases are processed in the Crown courts and trial by jury. It discusses the role and powers of the judge in relation to the management of cases, trial process and outcomes. It also discusses the jury system and how jury composition affects perceptions of the fairness and legitimacy of jury trial. Research about the impact of jury composition and juror attitudes on verdicts is discussed. The chapter goes on to consider whether key evidential rules unduly favour the defence or prosecution and attempts to further erode the practical significance of jury trial through the use of judge-only trials.
This chapter first considers the functions of the courts and questions whether there are other, more symbolic functions at play than finding the truth. It then outlines the court system, looking to both magistrates' courts and the Crown Court, and explores the composition of both courts, the types of cases that they deal with, and their role. To examine a particular decision made within the criminal courts, the chapter looks at the mode of trial decision. It concludes by asking whether the reality of the courts lives up to the rhetoric of trial by jury as the pinnacle of due process protections.