On the European Arrest Warrant

A TOP judge has become embroiled in the politically explosive debate over Britain’s ties with Europe after criticising a central plank of European Union justice powers as “unworkable”.

Lord Justice Thomas, the country’s most senior extradition judge, said the European arrest warrant “becomes unworkable in the end” because the court, prison and police systems of some less developed EU countries were not “up to scratch”.

He signalled that some nations had such low standards of criminal justice that the legal rights of British citizens were damaged when they were extradited to face trial there.

Err, yes.

I think this is fairly obvious. Half the continent doesn\’t have jury trial nor even habeas corpus.

5 thoughts on “On the European Arrest Warrant”

  1. Half the continent has habeas corpus? Who? Where? I understood that not even England has had habeas corpus since Blair’s ‘reforms’ of the justice system.

    “He signalled that some nations had such low standards of criminal justice that the legal rights of British citizens were damaged when they were extradited to face trial there.”

    Yes. Some nations, including the UK. If we had a high proportion of robust convictions based on solid evidence and a sensible reading of the law, we might have something to complain about.

  2. Moreover, why do you assume that jury trial is somehow inherently better than a bench trial?

    As Wikipedia puts it, “the positive belief about jury trials in the UK and the US contrasts with popular belief in many other nations, in which it is considered bizarre and risky for a person’s fate to be put into the hands of untrained laymen.”

    Continental European systems are different from common law, but the actual quality of the legal system depends on something else.

    You’d be quite happy with the legal system in Germany, Sweden or Austria – generally the EU15, possibly excluding Greece, and I don’t know about Portugal for instance. But then the courts and officials of recent EU members (such as Romania or Bulgaria) are weak and more corrupt than we like. The difference lies in the amount of corruption in the country and rule of law, not in whether the law system has trials by jury.

    Tim adds: The great joy of jury trial is “jury nullification”. That’s the ability of the jury to simply say, at the end of a trial where the defendant has been found guilty as hell, to say “fuck off, that’s not a crime” and find them not guilty.

    Has indeed happened numerous times. Under the Official Secrets Act (can’t name the case because that would be libelously insisting that the defendant was in fact guilty but think Falkland’s War). And used to happen in capital murder cases which is one of the things that led to the abolition of capital punishment.

    A very fine system indeed.

  3. I think one can say that Clive Ponting expected to be convicted, and that his public interest defence seemed likely to fail after the judge’s direction to the jury that “the public interest is what the government of the day says it is”.

    It seems to me that the jury system is rather too likely to produce wrongful convictions in high-profile cases where the jury inevitably has strong feelings about the crime – the Birmingham Six for example. Do bench trials do better in this respect?

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