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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Juries? Meh, who needs 'em.

On the subject of justice, I may have my tin foil hat on here but this article worried me.
Two thirds of jurors sitting in British courts fail to understand what a judge tells them about important aspects of the law, risking serious miscarriages of justice, a study concludes.
And what my bacofoil shielded thoughts are telling me is that maybe, just maybe (no sarcasm intended), this will be seen as evidence that jury trials are a weak link and perhaps should be phased out. I can't think why those thoughts have crept into my mind, unless... could it possibly be something to do with the fact the decision was made last year to hold a jury-less criminal trial (okay, now sarcasm is intended)? And that the reasons for this are not entirely clear cut...
"The ruling has been made on the basis of secret material which we have never seen, presented by witnesses whose identity – other than their rank in the Metropolitan police – has not been disclosed to us," his solicitors said.
... although it is known that the defendant, John Twomey, gave evidence against the police in a 1980s corruption case. Make of that what you will, but all the appeals to treated normally were turned down and Twomey's trial - his fourth for this same offence - is on now. He might even be guilty for all I know, but I wouldn't bet on an acquittal either way.

So is this latest study, conducted on behalf of the Justice Ministry, another step down the path to the right to trial be a jury of one's peers being done away with? Minus my aluminium beanie I have to say probably not. After all there's still the requirement for at least a majority verdict and ideally unanimity, and one judge was quoted as saying that the study vindicated juries. So probably not any kids of sneaky softening up so that more cases that are 'must win' for the CPS can be heard without a jury who might not understand how important it is that justice is seen to be done i.e. doesn't matter if it actually is as long as it looks like it is. No, probably nothing to worry about.

But the thing is this: instead of thinking 'probably not' surely I ought to be saying 'certainly not'?

UPDATE: Clearly not just me. Her Sabre-Toothed-ness agrees in the comments and over at Douglas Carswell's blog he says much the same. Is there enough tinfoil to go around?

1 comment:

JuliaM said...

You're not paranoid, it was my first thought too!

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