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The House of Representatives has finally approved an amendment to the Jury Act to allow for majority verdicts, of no less than nine to three among a 12-man jury, in non-capital murder cases.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, who opened debate on the Bill on Tuesday (June 15) and closed the debate Tuesday (June 29) prior to its approval by the House, suggested that the amendment would improve efficiency in the court system and result in fewer hung juries, or deadlock, reducing the need for retrials.
Mr. Golding pointed out that the change will only affect non-capital murder trials, where the death penalty is not an option. Trials for capital murder, for which the maximum punishment is death, or trials for treason, will retain the requirement that the person can only be convicted by a unanimous decision of the jury.
In his remarks, Opposition Member of Parliament, for Western St. Andrew Anthony Hylton urged the Government to re-examine the remuneration for jurors. He suggested that there were many complaints from persons having to serve on multiple juries.
“I think we need to look at how they are compensated and more importantly when. My understanding is that it takes an inordinately long time for the jurors to be compensated,” Mr. Hylton said.
In his response, Mr. Golding stated “I have noted those matters and I will convey them to the Minister with direct responsibility.”