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The role of the judge and the jury in deciding a case

To understand how cases are decided in the Victorian trial courts, it is important to know the role of the judge and the jury and the extent of their participation in deciding a case.

The judge in a trial has the obligation to instruct the jury to be familiar with the law which is applicable in the case they are trying. The judge must inform the jury how to apply he law in deciding the real issue of the case as pointed out in the case of Azzopardi v R (2001) 205 CLR 50; RPS v R (2000) 199 CLR 620).

The judge has the burden of educating the jury about the elements of the offence charged and the onus and the standard of proof required. As the judge, he must have the proper control of the proceeding and warn the jury about impermissible reasoning. He must remind the jury of the arguments of both the prosecution and the defence and assist them to understand the facts of the case.

The jury on the other hand is the sole judge to decide the facts of the case which must not be obscured by the performance of the trial judge. The jury has the obligation to examine the facts, apply the relevant law to the facts of the case and return a verdict as stated in the case of the Director of Public Prosecutions v Stonehouse [1978] AC 55. (See also Metropolitan Railway Co v Jackson (1877) 3 App Cas 193).

The members of the jury are required to determine to what extent the evidence presented should be accepted and believed. They have the burden to determine whether they should draw inferences from the evidence presented.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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