We need to take a long, hard look at whether trial by jury is working

I have today written a piece for the i newspaper on the jury system, after the excellent series published this week on life as a juror, The Trial: Secrets of Jury Service. My thoughts can be found here.

One thought on “We need to take a long, hard look at whether trial by jury is working

  1. Juries often react perversely. If you look at the 40% acquitted in the Crown Courts a significant slice are good looking attractive people with a certain charisma. It’s human nature. Randomly selecting juries means they randomly reflect the ignorances and prejudices in our Society. There is no examination of their opinions, everything relies on luck of the draw. You will get situations where the entire room of lawyers, from Judge to Prosecutor and Defence Counsel feel uneasy with a verdict, usually not guilty, suspecting inappropriate sympathy for a pathetic defendant or with his tearful wife. Or dislike of an arrogant police officer. Or because the Judge was like something from a horror film. A myriad of reasons but all of them irrational as to the issue of guilt based on evidence.
    Napoleon introduced what he termed rational justice. The purpose of an investigation was to search for the truth and it was done by a lawyer not a police officer. The conviction rate in France is apparently about 97%. It might well reflect a true rate of criminality so one wonders about the 40% rate here.
    In the UK Courts nobody pretends to be searching for the truth; both Crown and Defence want to win. They battle each other as enemies with many a trick up their sleeves, a ‘ruse de guerre’. As the SB says it’s purely a case of persuading those particular 12 to accept your argument. If Truth put her head round the door the entire Court (especially the Defendants perhaps!) would recoil in horror.
    Juries are relatively easily ‘nobbled’ as well, perhaps more than is admitted? How many of those 40% acquittals rely on a ‘wedge’ getting passed over in a pub?
    The Jury system is akin to medieval methods of finding guilt, floating or sinking; sheer chance.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s