Trial by Jury Involving Persons Accused of Terrorism

Document Type



The most up-to-date version of this piece can be found in the Duke Law Scholarship


This chapter explores issues in jury trials involving persons accused of committing acts of international terrorism or financially or otherwise supporting those who do or may commit such acts. The jury is a unique institution that draws upon laypersons to decide whether a person charged with a crime is guilty or innocent. Although the jury is instructed and guided by a trial judge and procedural rules shape what the jury is allowed to hear, ultimately the laypersons deliberate alone and render their verdict. A basic principle of the jury system is that at the start of trial the jurors should have open minds and regard the accused innocent until proven guilty. The chapter raises issues about jurors’ assumptions of innocence in the aftermath of terrorist bombings in the United States, England, Bali, Spain and elsewhere when persons are persons accused of committing acts of terrorism or indirectly supporting terrorists through financing organizations associated with terrorism. A study of a United States trial involving charges of supporting terrorism is used to illustrate the problem, but the thesis of this chapter is that the basic issues apply to trials that might be held in England, Australia, Canada or other countries with jury systems.

Date of Authorship for this Version

October 2006