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The Jury Projects

About the projects

The jury projects are a series of three separate studies (the Tasmanian pilot study, the Victorian study and the National study), which build on each other and focus on different questions but each, at its heart, shares a focus on gauging the views of jurors on sentencing.

The inspiration for the jury projects:

‘If governments were concerned to know what the public think of sentencing practice, a survey of the reactions of jurors to sentences imposed in cases which those jurors had tried could provide interesting information. That could be a useful practical test of whether there is some systemic failure of the process to meet the expectations of well-informed members of the public.’

Hon Murray Gleeson AC; Out of Touch or Out of Reach’ (2005) 7 Judicial Review 241

The Tasmanian jury study was the first study, in this series of studies, and explored the value of asking jurors for their opinions on sentencing. The idea behind this being that jurors, as representative members of the public, who have been involved in a real criminal trial and have been exposed to a flesh and blood offender, may be in a better position than some other members of the public to comment on the appropriateness of sentences imposed on offenders. Contrary to expectations, the majorty of jurors (52%) proposed a sentence for the offender in their trial which was actually more lenient than the sentence imposed for that same offender by the judge.

The Victorian jury study built on the Tasmanian study by exploring further the factors that influence jurors’ views on sentencing including offender and offence factors. A key finding from this study was that although the majority of Victorian jurors (62%) also proposed a sentence more lenient than the trial judge’s sentence, the type of offence committed influenced this result. In sex offence trials, a narrow majority of jurors (50%) proposed a more lenient sentence than the judge and this figure dwindled down to just 36% of jurors proposing a more lenient sentence where the sexual offence committed was child sexual assault involving children aged under 12.

The National jury study builds on the Victorian study by focusing on the views of jurors from trials involving sexual offences and aims to improve our understanding of the factors which drive the apparent lack of satisfaction with sentencing of sex offences specifically. The data for this project has been collected and analyses and publications are underway.

Research Partners

  • Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council (Partner Investigator, National Study)
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (Partner Investigator, National Study);
  • Tasmanian Department of Justice (Partner Investigator National Study);
  • Victims of Crime Commission ACT (Partner Investigator National Study;
  • Considerable support was provided by the Courts and in particular the Sheriff at the Supreme Court of Tasmania and the Juries Commissioner’s Office, Victoria.

Funding Source

  • Tasmanian Project
    Criminology Research Council
  • Victorian Project
    Australian Research Council Discovery Project: DP 130101054
  • National Project
    Australian Research Council Linkage Project: LP130100083 (and seed funding from the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration)

Research Group

Project Team and Affiliation

Professor Kate Warner
University of Tasmania
(Tasmanian, Victorian and National jury projects)

Associate Professor Julia Davis
University of South Australia
(Tasmanian, Victorian and National jury projects)

Professor Maggie Walter
University of Tasmania
(Tasmanian jury project)

Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg
Monash University
(Victorian jury project)

Professor Lorana Bartels
University of Canberra
(National jury project)

Professor Geraldine Mackenzie
University of Southern Queensland
(National jury project)

Professor George Zdenkowski
University of Tasmania
(National jury project)

Associate Professor Lynne Roberts
Curtin University
(National jury project)

Research Assistants

Dr Caroline Spiranovic
Senior Research Assistant
(Victorian and National jury projects)

Rachel Vermey
(Tasmanian and Victorian jury projects)

Luci Wilson
(Tasmanian jury project)

Rebecca Bradfield
(Tasmanian and Victorian jury project)

Dr Helen Cockburn
(Victorian jury project)

Dr Rhiannon Davies
(National jury project)

Dr Charlotte Hunn
(National jury project)

Tamara Lipscombe
(National jury project)

Jessica Sipes
(National jury project)

Publications

  • Julia Davis, KateWarner and Rebecca Bradfield , ‘Interviewing the jury: Three case studies from the Tasmanian Jury Sentencing Study’ in Bartels L and Richards K (eds), Qualitative Criminology: Stories from the field. Sydney: Federation Press (2011).
  • Kate Warner, Julia Davis and Peter Underwood, ‘The Jury Experience: Insights from the Tasmanian Jury Study’ (2011) 10 (3) The Judicial Review 333.
  • Kate Warner, Julia Davis, Maggie Walter, Rebecca Bradfield and Rachel Vermey, ‘Public judgement on sentencing: Final results from the Tasmanian Jury Sentencing StudyTrends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No 407 (2011). 
  • Kate Warner and Julia Davis, ‘Using Jurors to Establish Public Attitudes to Sentencing’ (2011) 52(1) British Journal of Criminology 93-112.
  • Kate Warner, Julia Davis, Maggie Walter and Caroline Spiranovic, ‘Are Judges Out of Touch?’ (2014) 25 (3) Current Issues in Criminal Justice 729.
  • Kate Warner and Caroline Spiranovic, ‘ Jurors’ views of suspended sentences’ (2014) 47 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 141-159.
  • Kate Warner, Julia Davis and Maggie Walter, Jury Sentencing Survey, Report to the Criminology Research Council, 2010. See Criminology Research Council, CRC funded reports 2010/11.
Audio
  • Explaining method and aims of the National Study (no results as yet)
  • Kate Warner, ‘The Australian national jury sex offence sentencing study’ (2014) 11 The Judicial Review 459-480.
  • Kate Warner, ‘National research with jurors on sentencing for sexual offences’ (2014) 26 (2) Judicial Officers’ Bulletin.
  • Preliminary results see:
  • Kate Warner, ‘Preliminary Findings from the National Jury Sentencing Project, 2019 Supreme and Federal Court Judges’ Conference, Hobart, Tasmania.

Sample Study Materials