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Speakers Corner


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Are Jury Trials Still the Best Choice?


fourm member

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Rather than hijack my own thread, I thought I'd start a new one.

In South Africa, Oscar Pistorius will be tried in front of a panel who will be selected because they have the knowledge to reach a fair decision.

In the UK, Vicky Pryce is facing a retrial after, at least some, of the jury in her case turned out to have no understanding of what it was supposed to do.

You cannot stop information about alleged offenders from getting out ahead of a trial and you may not be able to trust a prospective juror who says they have no opinion in advance of hearing the evidence.

Do we need to replace juries with panels? Or, do we need to keep all accused anonymous until a trial is concluded?

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HondaMan

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**"In the UK, Vicky Pryce is facing a retrial after, at least some, of the jury in her case turned out to have no understanding of what it was supposed to do. You cannot stop information about alleged offenders from getting out ahead of a trial and you may not be able to trust a prospective juror who says they have no opinion in advance of hearing the evidence."**

For those reasons I doubt that she will be able to have a fair and unbiased trial. This has been all over the media for weeks and opinion as to whether "she done it" is rife. Plus, of course, there is the added cost of a re-trial.

The CPS and police quite rightly treat attempts to pervert the course of justice vigorously, but in this instance I wonder whether the public interest would actually be served by putting her on trial again. The evidence has (or should have been) gone through in minute detail and no verdict reached and may not be again so what really is the point?

Huhne is going to jail and should be ordered to pay all costs in HIS trial.

Read more: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/forums/16/speakers-corner/4211551/are-jury-trials-still-the-best-choice/#ixzz2LWJnCLf3 **

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Quickbeam

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"In South Africa, Oscar Pistorius will be tried in front of a panel who will be selected because they have the knowledge to reach a fair decision."

But the police are unbelievably outspoken with the disclosure of information to the public domain during the referral hearing and it now turns out that one of the investigating detectives is himself being investigated on 7 (yes seven) counts of attempted murder. Not only would we expect such an officer to be suspended for the duration of the investigation, but the fact that he isn't, questions the supposed perfect integrity of the non-jury judging panel.

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"In the UK, Vicky Pryce is facing a retrial after, at least some, of the jury in her case turned out to have no understanding of what it was supposed to do."

Are UK juries given any kind of simple induction at the start of their jury service, or are they just thrown in at the deep end? That is the impression I got with this one, that there is a failing within the courts to be addressed.

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"You cannot stop information about alleged offenders from getting out ahead of a trial and you may not be able to trust a prospective juror who says they have no opinion in advance of hearing the evidence."

Compared to some of the wild stuff the South African police have been throwing to the press, I don't think we need to worry too much about that here.

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"Do we need to replace juries with panels? Or, do we need to keep all accused anonymous until a trial is concluded?"

No & Yes.

No, because what's happening in South Africa where they claim that the judging panel will be completely impartial, I simply do not believe anyone cannot be influenced in some way by the aggressive release of pre-trial evidence from the police.

Yes, especially in cases where the accuser is granted anonymity. All or non should have anonymity.

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I was listening to an interview on Five Live news last night on the Vicky Pryce trial fiasco, the person being interviewed argued that the jury system offers an independent layperson's view that the formal stuffed shirt attitudes of professional lawyers that don't live in the real world could ever hope to achieve. And also that we have an inherent trust in being judged by our peers, even if they find us guilty.

My personal view on the Vick Pryce trial is that it was questionable if it was in the public interest to take what seemed to me to be a petty but vindictive personal attack on her husband after such a long time, the fact that it collapsed has me thinking that it should be dropped as not worth the cost of pursuing further.

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Quickbeam

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...so I'll stick with our trusted system warts and all thanks.

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fourm member

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I'm not so sure that the questions asked by the Pryce jury are as stupid as they are being made out to be.

They read a little bit like the foreman trying to get information to overturn the views of one (or more) of the jurors.

Looking at the general rather than the particular, given that research into the workings of juries is just about impossible, we don't know how many juries reached their decisions after taking account of outside information but didn't see the need to ask the judge about it.

Or, how many interpreted 'reasonable doubt' in a less than mainstream way.

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Quickbeam

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I think you've hit the nail on the head fm, that's what I read into it, that they were aware of outside opinion, as is only natural in humans.

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Clapton is God

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There's nothing wrong with the jury system which has served us well for many years.

However, speaking as a former juror, the system could be improved by the simple expedient of allowing the Courts Service to undertake checks beforehand that potential jurors do have working brains and are able to think for themselves - which, in the Vicky Pryce case, clearly some or all of them hadn't and couldn't.

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john bunyan

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I fully agree with Clapton is God.I heard two former Lords Chief Justice on "Today" who thought this an atypical case; one just said "reasonable doubt" meant you had to be "certain".

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Chronos the 2nd

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They read a little bit like the foreman trying to get information to overturn the views of one (or more) of the jurors.

Overturn is totally the wrong word, persuade would be more fitting. It is not the foreman's job to overturn the views of a juror.The role of the foreman is to ask questions on behalf of the jury,and to facilitate jury discussions.

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Forum Editor

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"I'm not so sure that the questions asked by the Pryce jury are as stupid as they are being made out to be."

According to the judge in the case they are. he says that he gave clearly worded written information to the jurors which covered the points they raised, in addition to the verbal directions he gave them in court. He says that in over thirty years sitting as a judge he has never once seen a situation like the one in question, where a jury appears to be unable to understand the most simple legal concepts. His inference is that these jurors, or some of them, are incapable of understanding plain English, or of grasping basic procedural rules.

I've read the questions they asked, and I was shocked by their simplicity.

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Forum Editor

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Quickbeam

"Are UK juries given any kind of simple induction at the start of their jury service, or are they just thrown in at the deep end?"

Juries can be,and often are,given written information by judges, and they are all given verbal direction in court. They can subsequently put written questions to the judge if they need further clarification.

A Ministry of Justice study of 69,000 jury verdicts carried out in 2010 produced a report which claimed that two thirds of juries failed to properly understand what a judge tells them about important aspects of the law, risking serious miscarriages of justice.

It was revealed that many jurors research their own case on the internet - something which is a contempt of court. It was also discovered that juries were more likely to convict in some courts than in others - Teeside and Harrow Crown Courts have the highest conviction rates, while Swansea and Preston had some of the lowest.

Juries are fair and efficient, the report concluded, but the majority do not understand what a judge tells them about the law when it comes to returning their verdicts.

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