Extensive media interest in UCD research on reform of the jury system

Dr Mark Coen and Dr Niamh Howlin of the Sutherland School of Law recently published a major piece of research entitled ‘Judges and Juries in Ireland: An Empirical Study’. The work was undertaken with Dr Colette Barry (Sheffield Hallam University) and PhD candidate John Lynch. It was launched by Chief Justice Frank Clarke at the Criminal Courts of Justice in March. Among those who attended the launch were several members of the judiciary, senior officials from the Department of Justice and Courts Service, and the Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus. The launch garnered extensive coverage across the print media, including radio interviews with Dr Coen and Dr Howlin.

The research team interviewed 22 judges and 11 barristers about their experiences of jury trials and their report analyses this data and makes reform recommendations. The authors argue that provision should be made by law for academic research involving former jurors, as previously recommended by the Law Reform Commission. The report notes that in Australia and New Zealand, countries with similar rules regarding jury secrecy, it has been possible for academics to survey former jurors to learn about their experiences. Such research has helped academics, policymakers, judges and lawyers in those jurisdictions to better understand the needs and concerns of jurors and provided an evidence base for law reform and changes in practice.

Pictured (l to r) John Lynch, Dr Niamh Howlin, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Dr Colette Barry and Dr Mark Coen