A citizen jury involves the wider community in the Decision Making process. Participants are engaged as citizens with no formal alignments or allegiances rather than experts. Citizen juries use a representative sample of citizens (usually selected in a random or stratified manner), who are briefed in detail on the background and current thinking relating to a particular issue, and asked to discuss possible approaches, sometimes in a televised group. Citizen juries are intended to complement other forms of consultation rather than replace them. Citizens are asked to become jurors and make a judgement in the form of a report, as they would in legal juries. The issue they are asked to consider will be one that has an effect across the community and where a representative and democratic decision-making process is required (see Case Study Citizen Jury regarding water quality in the Bremer River, Ipswich, Queensland).
Citizen juries can be used to broker a conflict, or to provide a transparent and non-aligned viewpoint.
Citizen jurors bring with them an intrinsic worth in the good sense and wisdom born of their own knowledge and personal experience. The Citizen Jury provides the opportunity to add to that knowledge and to exchange ideas with their fellow citizens. The result is a collective one, in which each juror has a valuable contribution to make. (Jefferson Center's Citizens' Jury Handbook. Summer 1997.)
Citizens' juries were first used in the 1970s in the United States and in Germany to overcome the limitations of standard opinion polling for complex scientific issues. A citizens' jury brings together a group of 16 or so randomly chosen citizens as jurors and provides a forum in which the jurors can consider how best to deal with an issue of public importance. It takes place over a number of days during which jurors are given detailed, balanced information about the issue, hear a wide range of views from witnesses, and are able to question these witnesses as well as seek out any additional information they might want. The citizens' jury is organised in consultation with an advisory committee and stakeholder reference group whose role includes making sure that witnesses are of high quality. There is a neutral facilitator who ensures that jurors are able to get the information they need, and at the same time takes care that all witnesses are treated fairly. The event concludes with the jurors preparing a report that records recommendations and any dissenting points of view. ( "Using Citizens' Juries for Making Decisions in Natural Resource Management." Land and Water Australia, July 2001. http://www.lwa.gov.au/downloads/publications_pdf/PF010167.pdf )
(some redundancy above here, let's refactor)
This page originally copied with permission from the Citizens Science Toolbox