WHAT ARE CITIZENS’ JURIES?
|The Institute of Public Policy Research in the United Kingdom described the process of a Citizens’ Jury as follows.|
Citizens’ Juries involve the public in their capacity as ordinary citizens with no special axe to grind. They are usually commissioned by an organisation which has power to act on their recommendations. Between 12 and 16 jurors are recruited, using a combination of random and stratified sampling, to be broadly representative of their community. Their task is to address an important question about policy or planning. They are brought together for four days, with a team of two moderators.
They are fully briefed about the background to the question, through written information and evidence from witnesses. Jurors scrutinise the information, cross examine the witnesses and discuss different aspects of the question in small groups and plenary sessions. Their conclusions are compiled in a report which is returned to the jurors for their approval before being submitted to the commissioning authority. The jury’s verdict need not be unanimous, nor is it binding.
However, the commissioning authority is required to publicise the jury and its findings, to respond within a set time and either to follow its recommendations or to explain publicly why not. Compared with other models, citizens’ juries offer a unique combination of information, time, scrutiny, deliberation and independence
(Coote, A. and Lenaghan, J. 1997. Citizens’ Juries: Theory into Practice. Institute for Public Policy Research, London, UK.)
|IN SUMMARY, CITIZENS’ JURIES:. address a matter of public policy and/or interest;|
. are asked to respond to a ‘charge’ which is most usually a specific question or choice between various options;
. are made up of 12-24 people selected by random or stratified random sampling of the relevant population; and
. meet for 1 to 5 days.
THE JURORS ARE ASKED TO:. represent the community;
. work together;
. listen to witnesses;
. question witnesses;
. consider and discuss the topic;
. deliberate on and develop a response to the charge; and
. prepare a report documenting the jury’s response to the charge.
The role of the jurors and of the witnesses are critical to the operation of a Citizens’ Jury. These were detailed by Rosemary James for use in the recent Citizens’ Jury on national park management as follows.
ROLE OF THE JURY IN THE CITIZENS’ JURY
The jury represents the people of New South Wales. The jury members will be required to listen to information about the key activities which are undertaken to manage national parks and reserves in the State and to make a decision about the best way to spend the limited available funds on park management. The National Parks and Wildlife Service currently spends its money in parks on five main activities:. fire management;
. weed control;
. feral animal control;
. maintenance of facilities; and
. management of historic sites.
The jury will be asked to decide between three options, each detailing a different allocation of the currently available funds across the five park management activities.
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