Georgia begins jury trials
Georgians are getting the right to be tried by a jury of their peers at the end of this week, on October 1. At this stage jury trials will be limited to aggravated murders, and Tbilisi. While greater involvement of the general public in practical governance is an important objective, jury trials are seen as an attempt to improve the image of the largely distrusted judiciary. Another hope is that jurors could help improve the notoriously low (less than 1%) acquittal rate of the Georgian courts. A public information campaign has already been started, on TV and billboards, but not much information has been so far provided on what trial by jury actually means and how it is to operate. The only supplement to the “from October 1 YOU are the judge” message has been the letter sent out by the Supreme Court president to Tbilisi households, providing a few key bullet points on the issue. Given the situation, TI Georgia’s report on jury trials, from 2007, when the issue was still in the deliberation and drafting stage, could be informative.