Komron Tursunmurodov

Image source: thecrimereport.org

Deciding one’s fate is a difficult task. As humans are fallible, they tend to make mistakes. Judges are also humans, who make mistakes, which result in negative consequences. In this blog post, I will analyze and compare the advantages and disadvantages of a jury trial system, and I will give my proposals for implementing it in Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system.

What is a jury trial?

According to the Legal Dictionary, a jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a group of citizens, known as jurors, are selected to hear evidence and determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence. In the US, a jury is a randomly selected group of law-abiding citizens comprising 12 members (jurors).

According to Julian V Roberts and Mike Hough, jury trials play a crucial role in the criminal justice system of every state. Firstly, experienced lawyer David E. Lewis says that the jury’s job is to listen to the evidence presented in court by both parties: defense and prosecution. Therefore, the jury’s verdict is strongly based on the evidence. Secondly, 12 people decide a defendant’s fate. In Mohammad Khan’s (experienced criminal defense lawyer) view, compared to a judge-alone trial, 12 people can very rarely make mistakes, and they could be more impartial than one person (judge). Finally, as Susannah Marshall stated, these 12 people cannot be easily bribed or affected by officials with high status or any interested individuals compared to a judge. The reason is that there is always at least one honest person (juror) who is against corruption.

Let’s imagine a situation. A man is accused of slandering the law enforcement bodies of a state on social media. The defense provides a great deal of evidence proving a man’s innocence; however, the prosecution fails to give sufficient evidence establishing the man’s guilt to the court. In this case, there might be either political or executive pressure from government officials to the judge before he/she makes the final decision. It means the judge, being under pressure, might not be impartial and fair. This example shows the necessity of a jury trial for every country’s criminal justice system.

Advantages and disadvantages of the jury system

According to a Research Study prepared by Herbert D. Bowman and Pham Thi Thanh Nga, there are some advantages and disadvantages of the jury system.

The jury system is said to have the following advantages:

1) it introduces community values into a country’s justice system;

2) it serves as a check on governmental power;

3) it builds trust in legal institutions;

4) it provides greater transparency and increases the likelihood that society will better understand and accept the verdict regardless of how the case is ultimately decided.

The jury system is said to have the following disadvantages:

1) it is too expensive and time-consuming;

2) jurors are not trained in legal matters and are inexperienced in the criminal justice system so can reach the wrong conclusions;

Based on this research, it can be concluded that the advantages of the jury system outweigh its disadvantages. However, Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system already has its lay assessors (xalq maslahatchilari) who have equal rights as their professional counterparts. Presiding judge of Kibray criminal court Sanjar Dusmanov explained how lay assessors institution fails to meet the current needs of the criminal justice system. He says that there are many cases when lay assessors miss trials without a good reason. Usually, they are old and retired people, and they are late for trials. This results in others’ preoccupation. Furthermore, lay assessors’ selection is poorly managed. Lay assessors, who do not know jurisprudence, work with professional judges and make final decisions. It means they determine the defendant’s guilt with a judge, whereas, in jury trials, the judge does not interfere in rendering a verdict. 

How to form Uzbekistan’s jury trial?

In 2023, a Presidential candidate from the People’s Democratic Party, Ulugbek Inoyatov proposed introducing the institution of jury trials. There are many reasons to implement them in Uzbekistan.

Firstly, a jury trial gives both the defense and prosecution an opportunity to present their evidence and case before a group of 12 impartial individuals. Unfortunately, in today’s courts, the case of the defense is often neglected. A judge simply ignores the defense’s arguments and factual evidence no matter how they are strong and convincing. However, jurors will stay impartial and listen to the evidence of both parties carefully. This in turn will provide the equality of prosecution and defense as it is established in Uzbekistan’s Constitution.

Secondly, Uzbekistan is a democratic state, where the people are its sole source of power (Art. 17 of the Constitution). If we allow ordinary people to judge their peers based on their understanding of ‘general justice’, we will ensure the true existence of democracy. In other words, a jury trial can provide protection against the potential abuse of the judge’s powers; as a result, ensuring the legal process is conducted fairly. So, a jury trial ensures the appliance of the principle of democracy established in Article 6 of Uzbekistan’s Criminal Code.

Thirdly, a single judge can be easily influenced by officials with higher status or bribed by powerful people, etc. A jury trial can prevent this phenomenon. Let’s presume: ‘Who can be easily bribed: a single judge or twelve people? I think the answer would be 12 people because there might always at least one honest person who will undoubtedly inform about the corruption cases or the exerted influence to the law enforcement bodies.

Fourthly, judges in Uzbekistan are expected to carry out technical issues (presiding in the court, accepting or rejecting the evidence, monitoring correct appliance of procedural norms, etc.) and to render a verdict (listening to arguments of both parties, assessing the evidence, basing their decision on facts, etc.). This means it is too difficult for a single judge to accomplish these tasks simultaneously. Again, a jury system will allow the judge to focus only on the technical issues making the proceedings much faster and effective.

Finally, a jury trial serves as the key to maintaining public trust in the legal system. By involving ordinary citizens in the administration of justice, it is believed that the legal system is more transparent and accountable. In other words, a jury trial allows Uzbek courts to apply the principles of transparency, publicity, and openness which are enshrined in Article 12 of the Law ‘About Courts’ and Article 19 of the Criminal Procedure Code

I suggest taking an example from the jury trial in the US to guarantee that the implemented jury system in Uzbekistan flourishes. However, the following concerns should be taken into account while implementing jury trials in Uzbekistan:

1. Despite its advantages, a jury trial is time-consuming and expensive. That’s why I suggest the government consider focusing on grave and particularly serious offenses because for committing these types of crimes a person can receive lifelong imprisonment or any severe punishment. Other categories of crimes should be decided by a judge-alone trial.

2. While selecting the jurors, it is crucial to ensure that none of the jurors is interested in or privileged by the outcomes of the trial. Furthermore, every juror should be a law-abiding adult (citizen of Uzbekistan).

3. Although in the US there are no jurors with a specialty in jurisprudence, I suggest there must be three jurors with this specialty. The reason for this is linked to the verdict; it should be fair. A person with legal expertise can interpret the law correctly and understand the essence of crimes. These jurors will somehow share opinions and perspectives with other jurors about the level of punishment if they decide the person is guilty. Also, it would be good if 2 of the jurors were experienced psychologists. They will assess the defendant’s behavior and decide whether this person is inclined to commit further crimes.

4. Guaranteeing jurors’ rights, freedoms and safety is a must. The government should be in charge of providing every juror’s safety from other people’s threats. I personally think that jurors’ rights and freedoms should be enshrined in Uzbekistan’s laws.

5. To avoid financial costs, I propose to conduct jury trials online. For example, with the help of platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, etc., we can attend the proceedings virtually. However, it is important to experiment with this method by finding how effective it can be, analyzing potential problems, and so on.


My proposals do not mean to completely change Uzbekistan’s current criminal justice system, but to improve current system by adding to it the jury trials. I believe there would be big positive changes both for courts and the people if we try to implement jury trials in Uzbekistan, as the advantages of a jury trial prevail over its disadvantages.

Cite as:  Komron Tursunmurodov, “Should Uzbekistan implement jury trials in the criminal justice system?”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 18.01.2024.