Document Type

Book Chapter


Published in: Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd, editors, SpringerReference, 2014.


“Juries, Lay Judges, and Trials” describes the widespread practice of including ordinary citizens as legal decision makers in the criminal trial. In some countries, lay persons serve as jurors and determine the guilt and occasionally the punishment of the accused. In others, citizens decide cases together with professional judges in mixed decision-making bodies. What is more, a number of countries have introduced or reintroduced systems employing juries or lay judges, often as part of comprehensive reform in emerging democracies. Becoming familiar with the job of the juror or lay citizen in a criminal trial is thus essential for understanding contemporary criminal justice systems in many countries. This article reviews procedures for selecting jurors and lay judges and outlines lay participation in fact finding and in sentencing phases of the criminal trial. It also assesses the promises and challenges of lay participation in law. Reviewing and evaluating the effects of the different approaches that countries have taken to incorporating lay citizens, it reflects on whether the goals of democratic deliberation are being met in both jury and lay judge systems. It concludes with suggestions for future directions for research.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Lay judges, Juries, Trials