Entirely missing the point about juries

Those who hanker for the long-held principle of trial by “12 good men and true” are caught in a time warp. Just as equality has made such a twee saying redundant, patterns of criminal offending are making the jury system redundant for certain trials.

This week’s case has shown that a judge-alone trial is quicker, cheaper and does not carry the risk of jury nobbling. It is time to wake up to reality — and accept that sometimes “one good judge and true” is the answer .

Yes, trials without juries would be quicker, cheaper, more efficient and so on. But that isn\’t the point about having a jury at all.

The actual point, whisper it quietly, is jury nullification.

You can be bang to rights. Yes, the evidence conclusively proves that you are guilty as charged. The State is absolutely correct, you did the crime and now….the jury says \”Fuck off, we\’re not jailing someone for that\”.

That\’s the point of having a jury.

Oh sure, it\’s rare that this actually happens quite so obviously and brutally as all that. But it is the point all the same. Whatever the arsewipes in Parliament insist is the law, it still comes down to 12 entirely average and normal people considering \”is that a crime or not?\”.

14 thoughts on “Entirely missing the point about juries”

  1. I agree that’s a point,maybe a key reserve-power type constitutional point, in having juries, but the main one is still to give a human assessment to emotions and motives and what’s reasonable fear and doubt and care and not. These are the things that make crimes crimes. Juries are expensive and clunky and inconvenient and if I were a policeman, I’d despise them, but Judges and experts aren’t actually very good at justice.

  2. Having spent over 30 years at the criminal bar (with time off for parliamentary duties) I have rarely encountered such poorly researched, rather dangerous nonsense. Read the MOJ report, which I suspect was commissioned, to pander to these sort of after dinner rants, which gives the jury system a clean bill of health. Get rid of our juries and it will be yet another nail in our freedoms and a gift to any ruthless power crazed government. Why do you think Jack Straw has sympathy with this piece?

  3. The Pedant-General

    “if I were a policeman, I’d despise them, !”

    Excellent. Shows they’re working. We are free precisely because the police despise juries. If we didn’t have juries, the police would putting a lot more of us away on their say-so.


  4. Jefferson, who knew a thing or three about this type of thing, said the jury was “the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution”. Or, put less eloquently, a government governs only with the consent of the people. If the State oversteps the line in the making or prosecuting of laws, a jury, as representatives of the people, can tell the State to fuck off.

    Given that jury trials are held daily, but elections only once every 5 years, the people’s right to exercise their veto over the State could be held to belong far more in the court room than at the ballot box.

  5. No jury to get nobbled? Brilliant idea! They would only have to nobble one man then: the judge. Save them alot of time and effort and he could be on the payroll for life.

  6. “the evidence conclusively proves that you are guilty as charged. The State is absolutely correct, you did the crime and now….the jury says “Fuck off, we’re not jailing someone for that”.”

    Exactly. If/when the corrupt MPs we are forced to vote for ram a Bill through the systen to create a crime that most of us think is unfair, then the jury is the last line of defence.

    I’m sure you can think of your own examples but how about the crime of smoking in your own home? or criticising the government? or taking photographs in public places?

  7. The point of juries is pretty much entirely so that justice isn’t controlled entirely by the sorts of people who would get rid of them. That these people don’t really comprehend this is to be expected.

  8. His argument appears to start from the premise that judges are more capable of understanding complex technological evidence than the average person.

    Which brings to mind this article in the Register.

    And this Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch.

  9. This is about jury tampering right?

    Why can’t we have anonymous juries? In fact, why can’t we have jurors sitting behind a one-way screen, so they can’t be intimidated?

  10. Monty,
    probably because justice has to be open and seen to be done. An anonymous group could be made up of police officers, or of course criminals.

  11. The 2005 Criminal Justice Act is possibly the most deliberately malign piece of legislation ever conceived by Parliament and must be repealed, or at the very least large parts of it reformed. It should be the first act of the next government.

    But it won’t be.

    Unfortunately, all parties reflect/lead the popular mood with their “it’s the economy, stupid” approach. The mob just doesn’t care about unfashionable ideas like free speech, democracy and individual rights.

    We are living under the Stasi and I think we probably deserve to be.

  12. Derek Buxton // Apr 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm
    I agree that justice must be seen to be done. And also that certain people should be kept out of juries. But the accused, and his legal team, and the press, shouldn’t have the right to know the identities of jurors. The Judge and the Clerk of the Court would be in a position to vet the jury.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *