Have you ever been a part of a jury? Have you ever experienced the uncertainty of a hung jury? A hung jury is when a jury can’t reach a verdict and a decision on the outcome of a criminal or civil trial is not reached. This article will take a deeper look at the outcome of having a hung jury in a trial.
1. What is a Hung Jury?
A hung jury, also known as a “deadlocked jury”, is a jury that is unable to come to a unanimous decision on a verdict regarding a legal case they’ve been tasked with deciding. In a jury, usually comprising of 12 members, a guilty or not guilty verdict requires a unanimity of 12 jurors.
Circumstances leading to a Hung Jury:
- Strong opinions between jurors on the verdict
- Inconsistencies between evidence presented in court and the charges
- Insufficient evidence provided to jurors to make a clear decision
- Prejudice against one of the parties on the case, which inhibits the jury’s ability to come to a useful result that respects the law
In cases where a jury has been declared hung, the presiding judge can either give the jury an additional instruction to try and come to a conclusion, or may declare a mistrial. In the case where a mistrial is declared, the case may be retried at a later date with a new jury.
Unfortunately, in many cases of criminal trials, a hung jury is effectively equivalent to the defendant being found not guilty. This is due to the fact that the defendant cannot be retried for the same charge, so in the case of a hung jury it may be regarded as unfairly beneficial to the defendant.
2. The Repercussions of a Hung Jury
When a jury fails to reach a unanimous decision during a trial, it is known as a hung jury. This can be highly damaging, both for the prosecution and defense sides, as well as for justice as a whole.
Emotional Impact on the Accused
- The accused may be left with unresolved feelings of guilt or innocence.
- These feelings can be exacerbated if the prosecuted is aware of the details of the trial or by the opinion of peers.
Impact on the Legal System
- A hung jury can lead to costly repeat trials for accused persons, which is especially problematic if the accused is of limited financial means.
- A lack of convictive verdicts makes notoriously difficult to hold people accountable for their wrongful acts.
- A hung jury can result in lack of justice and the wrongful conviction or acquittal of innocent persons.
- The legal system is not the only place where can be felt. Depending on the case, public opinion can be strongly affected, swaying public sentiment in favor of or against the accused.
- Further trials and public interest in multiple trials can cost governments and taxpayers a lot of money.
3. Examining the Weighted Pros and Cons
Making an informed decision is much easier when all aspects are evaluated. Examine the pros and cons before making your final call. Consider the impact that the decision will have on you and your life.
Think through the potential positive impacts your decision may have on your life and ask yourself:
- What goals will it help me reach?
- How will it make me feel in the long-term?
- Will it fuel my productivity and enhance my life?
Once you’ve assessed these questions, weigh the pros in your decision-making process.
At the same time, acknowledge any potential downturns that you consider. Consider:
- What bad aspects of the decision may I overlook?
- Are there any longer-term adverse effects?
- Will it lessen my satisfaction or lessen any progress I’m making?
When evaluated as a whole and put into perspective, these weighted pros and cons will help you make wise decision when you face big choices.
4. Strategies for Moving Forward
At the heart of any successful move forward is accountability. It is not enough to recognize the need for change; there must also be action and responsibility. Each individual involved in the process should lay out specific goals that demonstrate their commitment to this change. Each goal should be measurable and achievable. This will help to ensure that everyone involved is doing their part and is doing it to the best of their ability.
Creating a Plan
Identifying the changes that need to take place is one step. Creating a plan to facilitate this change is a whole other level. This plan should consist of:
- Developing realistic timeline goals
- Establishing clear objectives
- Creating a strategy for success
- Defining responsibilities
By taking each of these four steps, a comprehensive plan can be drafted that can help move the process forward in a timely and efficient manner.
When attempting to move forward, collaboration between all those involved is a key element. There must be open communication and trust between all involved parties if progress is to be made. Through collaboration, different suggestions can be shared and potential barriers can be addressed faster and more effectively. When attempting to move forward, collaboration will help to pave the way for a more successful outcome.
Evaluating the Process
Finally, it is important to regularly assess the progress being made in order to ensure that the right steps are being taken to reach the desired outcome. This process should involve evaluating what is working, what needs to be changed, and how the team can improve their strategy. By revising the plan regularly, there can be a better sense of progress and success.
5. How to Regain Control When Things Don’t Go Your Way
No matter how much planning we make, life will always throw us curveballs. As disappointing as this may seem, unfortunately we can’t predict the future. The key in these situations is to know how to handle them. Here are a few tips on :
- Take a step back: When you’re in full panic mode, it’s difficult to see the outside perspective. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and try to assess the situation objectively.
- Talk it out: When we are wrapped up in our own heads and thoughts, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and confused. Having a conversation with someone about it will help you get into a different headspace.
- Prioritize: Now that you’ve taken a few minutes to clear your head, it’s time to prioritize. Identify the things that you have to do and what can wait.
- Refocus: Once the priority tasks are complete, work on refocusing your energy. Make sure to dedicate at least a few minutes each day to something positive. Reconnecting with a hobby or activity that makes you happy can be a great way to do that.
These tips will help you regain control in any situation. Take a step back, talk it out, prioritize and refocus. Doing so will help you stay calm and confident, even in the midst of crisis.
6. Post-Verdict Tips for Jurors
After Juror Duties Have Been Completed
Jury service can be a draining experience and many of those who have served want to move on with their lives. But for some, it can still be hard to recover from the emotional implications of a trial. Here are some tips to help you move on after the verdict is announced:
- Do something relaxing – take a walk, watch a movie, go for a swim.
- Essential for recovery: get sufficient sleep and nutrition. It’s important to take care of yourself physically as well as mentally.
Letting go of the events that took place may also take time. It’s normal to process your thoughts and feelings, so find ways to express yourself in a healthy and constructive way:
- Talk to supportive friends or family.
- Journaling can help you to understand your feelings and work through them.
- Look into professional you can talk to if your emotions are too overwhelming.
7. The Wider Consequences of a Hung Jury
When faced with the reality of a hung jury, the consequences can go far beyond the mere frustration of a failed trial. A hung jury speaks to deeper problems within our justice system that can blemish our chances of finding true and fair justice.
Cost of Inefficiency: One of the most obvious consequences of a hung jury is the cost of trying to figure out what went wrong. After a jury is stuck in an analytical deadlock for long enough, courts must investigate the motivations behind the jury’s inability to come to a consensus. This eats away government resources and adds expenses to the taxpayers. It is also time consuming, as the court must expend resources to make sure that whatever caused the jury to become disillusioned does not happen in the next trial.
- Not enough context for jurors
- Incomplete evidence
- Too complex a case for jury to handle
- Lack of clarity in proceedings
Muddled Morality: Beyond mere financial costs, a hung jury can lead to a profound moral confusion. In some cases, the jury has been presented with legally valid arguments or facts which have caused the jurors to be stuck in a debate about morality. To add to the confusion, it’s possible that due to the impasse, the defendant may walk away from the trial without any kind of legal resolution. Without a suggestion of guilt or innocence, society as a whole may struggle to understand complex moral questions.
Institutional Skepticism: Hung juries can be a sign to a greater problem with how the justice system grows and evolves. When an inordinate amount of hung jury cases occur, it may expose flaws in how our government manages its legal system. This can lead to the general public feeling unprepared or unconfident in the government’s ability to handle criminal appeals and trials.
Lack of closure: When cases reach a hung jury, it can buy a temporary satisfaction to both the prosecution and defense, yet fails to deliver a lasting resolution. The drawn out process only serves to reopen previously judged cases again without a legal closure on the matter. This can cause an emotional drain for all involved and further frustrate any progress in the justice system.
A hung jury is a significant issue for any court trial. Whether it is due to bias, a lack of evidence, or other factors, the result of a hung jury carries with it a great accountability and responsibility to reach a fair and just verdict and resolution. This article has explored the different causes and effects of a hung jury, and it is clear that while this uncertain situation can be difficult to navigate, it is an important part of the legal process and must be respected.