The so-called right to trial by jury is one available in only a small minority of criminal cases in England and Wales. Yet many people regard it as a fundamental human right. Recently, a number of our most senior judges have asked what the future role of jury trial should be in the criminal justice system.
As forensic evidence becomes more detailed and the use of - sometimes controversial - expert witnesses grows, do we need to reform our jury system to take account of changing needs and practices? And with strict controls placed on research into how juries work and how well they understand court procedures, do we even know what problems jurors may have with the system we now have? On top of this, politicians and others are concerned about the cost of jury trials.
Joshua Rozenberg considers the pressures on our historic system of trial by jury, what changes are being proposed and speaks to two recent jurors about their experiences.