Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Good Old Jury Trial
Whilst sitting in the retiring room having lunch this week one of my colleagues recounted their time on a jury a few months ago. They said they found it almost unbelievable, and not in a good way.
After a week and half of sitting around doing nothing other they were put on a two day trial. The defendant was charged (with an offence). The evidence, I was told, was absolutely overwhelming. The jury went out and took a vote. It was in favour of conviction. One of (the minority) wanted to question some of the evidence so they went through it, quite rightly, in just the same way that a bench of magistrates goes through the evidence before arriving at a decision. After the discussion they took another vote, and it became (guilty by a small margin).
Of those for not guilty (one was unwilling to convict for religious reasons and another for reasons of principle)..
They went into court to tell the judge they could not reach a unanimous decision. (the judge gave the majority direction, but they still couldn’t agree) hence the defendant walked.
Say what you like about magistrates but in my experience I have never seen anyone push a vote in a certain direction as a result of openly expressed prejudices and anyway it would need two of the three to affect the result.
(posted by Bystander N, edited by Bystander)