N.A. Dudko, A.S. Kamnev
Jury Verdict of Acquittal Revisited
This article emphasizes a growing tendency in the RF Criminal Procedure Law to limit the jury trial jurisdiction over criminal cases, to introduce a jury trial appeal, to reduce the number of jurors, and to return the concept of “objective truth”. It also raises concerns about the fact that the proposed legislative changes might prevent the RF citizens from exercising their constitutional right to participate in administering justice. The article reviews the reasons prompting members of the jury to acquit defendants in the most controversial situation when the defendant’s participation in the alleged crime is proved. The article concludes that guilt as a mental attitude of defendants toward what they have wrought and as an element of a crime becomes a category of evaluation rather than a technical one. Discretion of jurors — unlike the one of the professional judges — in determining the defendant’s guilt is not based on mens rea (malice, negligence). The decision is rather based on the social harm of an alleged crime, on its compliance with the ethics and morals of the society. This enables us to make a conclusion that the jury sentencing discretion in determining the defendant’s guilt is more flexible than the one of professional judges and this cannot be a reason for criticism of jury system, since it is its major advantage.
Key words: jury trial, jurors, verdict, guilt, acquittal
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