Spot On

We can successfully prosecute and punish – we just have to have sufficient evidence to persuade a jury of 12 ordinary men and women.

It\’s called the law. Or perhaps that\’s another freedom requiring modification in the face of those who oppose our fundamental values.

22 thoughts on “Spot On”

  1. One of the hazards of jury trials, unfortunately…

    Doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have them. Might mean the law needs to be tightened up in this particular case though.

  2. Reading the whole of Alice Miles’ piece I can’t escape the feeling that she would rather these people hadn’t been prosecuted at all, that she fundamentally doubts that there was any plot or thinks that MI5 cooked it up and that she doesn’t believe that Islamic supremacism is actively exploiting our freedoms in order to destroy them. She is terribly and dangerously wrong on all counts, in my view.

    This is the woman who said that she would not want Britain to retaliate with nuclear weapons if we were attacked by them.

    Taken in the round there is nothing spot on about her extreme left-liberalism Tim.

  3. I was a juror on an attempted murder trial, and it was scary. Most jurors did not take the task seriously and had no idea about how the law worked. The all white jurors were happy to be openly racist in the jury room. Intellectually, most failed to understand the charges, the procedures and what was asked of them. Some were just vehemently anti-police and wanted to let the guy go whatever the evidence said.

    I took the role of foreman and spent a long time talking round each juror in turn to agree the correct verdict that was clearly signalled by the judge and both barristers. If I hadn’t been there, it could have gone either way; might as well have thrown a dice instead.

    There must be a better system.

  4. marksany, no disrespect intended but your experience is of one jury out of how many?

    I think Alice Miles is making an excellent point: we should not allow trial by media, trial by politician, or trial by police. This is they key point:

    The jury rightly found three men guilty of conspiracy to murder [this puts the lie to tired and emotional’s claim], which carries a life sentence, but that isn’t enough for the authorities – the men must be convicted of a plot actually to blow aircraft out of the sky, because that is what police and politicians told everyone was being planned, and every air passenger’s life was greatly disrupted as a result.

  5. I was on the jury for a murder trail, some years ago, and my experience was quite different. The jury seemed to be engaged and everybody seemed to grasp the important parts of the case and how the law applied to them. If anybody was confused or uninterested they kept quiet about it. Perhaps it would have been different if there had been a racial element to the case.

    I don’t recall any signaling for a verdict from the court. The defense argued for acquittal , the prosecutor for conviction, and the judge carefully explained the relevant law.

  6. The nature of our legal system means that we can’t know for sure about jury competence, but this article on the collapse of the Jubilee line fraud trial may be of interest:

    On the trial itself, the research found that the jury “had a good understanding of the case, the issues and the evidence so far, as presented to them”. They did not appear to have had problems understanding the evidence or essentials of the case and most of them insisted that “they had a good or very good grasp of what the case was about from the prosecution opening”. They showed “impressive familiarity with the charges, issues and evidence, despite the length of time that had elapsed and the fact that they did not have their notes or access to documents . . .”.

  7. “There must be a better system.”

    Yes, in just the same way that democracy is flawed (I dare you to listen to callers to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 without shouting “you shouldn’t be allowed to vote!”).

    I can’t think of a better system that doesn’t end up with unchecked self-interest dominating. To see what I mean, just look at what is happening in the child courts when professionals are left to do what they like without scrutiny.

  8. Islamic supremacism is actively exploiting our freedoms in order to destroy them.

    So we have to destroy them first? Haha, take *that*, Islamic supremacists!

    A jury consists of 12 people too stuipid to get out of it.

    Not sure about that. Unless you’re self-employed, in which case fair play, why on earth would you try to get out of it?

  9. “I dare you to listen to callers to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 without shouting “you shouldn’t be allowed to vote!””

    Oooh, I do that. A lot.

    And given that I listen on a portable radio in my office, I don’t half get some odd looks…

  10. “Oooh, I do that. A lot.”

    In which case you must have been ready to go postal on the dippy woman who rang in yesterday to say that paedophiles will dress up as penguins in public parks in order to get close to children.

  11. “In which case you must have been ready to go postal on the dippy woman who rang in yesterday to say that paedophiles will dress up as penguins in public parks in order to get close to children.”

    People were worried, I’ll admit to that 😉

    “I suppose they might be paedophile furries…”

    Nothing’s too depraved for furries… 😉

  12. “Doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have them. Might mean the law needs to be tightened up in this particular case though.”

    That’s right. Don’t get the result you want? Change the law.

    And if you really want to justify the unjustiable because you know better, go for the weasel excuse: “We’re rebalancing the system in favour of the victims”

    Back to the point: the jury’s decision was perverse. A good reason to appeal.

  13. “That’s right. Don’t get the result you want? Change the law.”

    The law isn’t immutable, you know. It can, and must, change with the times. Note that no taxi drivers have been prosecuted recently for not carrying a bale of hay for their horse…

    “Back to the point: the jury’s decision was perverse.”

    According to whom? You?

  14. Yes, according to me. But unlike armchair fascists like you, I don’t advocate changing laws on rules of evidence until I get the result I want.

    There is an appeals procedure in the UK as in most countries. If the decision was perverse (and I think it was) then that’s what the plaintiffs should do.

    There is a difference. I believe that legal systems should have checks and balances to prevent the powerful from skirting the law.

    You clearly don’t.

  15. You do realise Gordon Brown doesn’t just whip out his fountain pen and scribble out a new law, don’t you…?

    It has to go through the parliamentary process. That’s the ‘checks and balances’…

  16. So, Brit_in_Aussie, without having heard the evidence you think the verdict was perverse. If there was not sufficient evidence of a plot – leaving aside whether these guys could first, actually have constructed a workable bomb, and second, got it to explode when and where they wanted – then you will probably need to change the law in order to get them behind bars.

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