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Citizen juries

Citizen Juries

Using structured deliberation by members of the public to progress policy.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumtances for use
Limitations
References, guides and key readings

Why you should use it

Citizen juries can help to:

  • forge a path towards consensus on controversial or divisive political issues
  • build public legitimacy for policy solutions
  • provide a structured input into the political process as a 'voice' of citizens
  • boost public awareness around a specific issue of concern and boost an informed and engaged citizenry
  • drive meaningful engagement and deliver creative solutions.

What it involves

  • Much like a jury in a legal case, a citizen jury will receive background information about the issue, hear expert witnesses and then make a considered 'judgment'.
  • A group of randomly selected citizens meet over several day, acting as a microcosm of their community.
  • The jury is informed by experts (often referred to as witnesses), who offer different perspectives on the issue based on their expertise.  Participants can ‘cross examine’ witnesses. 
  • The jurors then go through a process of deliberation and subgroups are often formed to focus on different aspects of the issue. 
  • Finally, the jurors produce a decision or provide recommendations in the form of a citizens’ report.
  • The sponsoring body (for example, government department, local authority) is required to respond to the report either by acting on it or by explaining why it disagrees.

What you will get out of it

  • A set of views and recommendations on a policy issue from a group that is representative of the broad community.
  • Insights into the public appetite for various solutions.

Ideal circumstances for use

  • Issues are well defined, but a political consensus on the how to tackle the issue is not in place.
  • You want to consider value-based questions (citizen juries are less suitable for considering technical questions).

Limitations

Citizen juries are not well suited to situations in which:

  • your agency is not clear about whether it can follow through on the jury’s recommendations
  • you want to consult special interest groups – citizen juries are representative rather than targeted
  • you don’t have the time or resources required.

References, guides and key readings

Case Study – Citizen Jury on Obesity - Detailed case study from Victoria, Australia 2015.

Citizen Jury on Nuclear Waste - Documentation of the 2016 citizen jury on nuclear waste in South Australia, including jury transcripts, jury reports, videos, information on selection process and more.

The Citizens Jury Process - Detailed article on the concept of citizen juries, with examples from the USA.

 

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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

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