Atorney General unveils plans for judge-only trials

#1
Here we go. the start of a slippery slope...

Plans to abolish juries in complex fraud trials do not amount to a general attack on jury trial, the Attorney General insists.

Lord Goldsmith, QC, today unveiled plans to enact a change in the law which was passed by Parliament more than 18 months ago.

It will allow a single judge to sit on complex fraud trials, ending the 800-year-old tradition that defendants are tried by a panel of 12 jurors.

The Government will move to introduce the law change in the autumn by seeking a vote in both the Commons and the Lords.

"This provision is not part of a general assault on jury trial," said Lord Goldsmith.

"The Government is strongly in favour of trial by jury in the vast majority of cases, where it will remain absolutely appropriate."

The move was likely to involve between 15 and 20 cases a year, he added.

He said there was currently a "double standard" where convictions are gained in simple, petty frauds but more complex cases either have to be abandoned or never get before a court.

"We can't have a situation of easy-to-prosecute blue-collar crime and unprosecutable white-collar crime," he said.

In March, the Jubilee Line extension fraud case collapsed after two years at a cost to the taxpayer of £60 million.

Director of legal reform and civil rights group Justice, Roger Smith, said: "Failure in the Jubilee Line fraud case cost millions of pounds, largely because of prosecution incompetence.

"The Attorney General should concentrate on improving prosecutions, wait to see how recent improvements in judicial case management - only introduced in March - actually work, and stop blaming the referee for embarrassing court defeats...
(c) Telegraph

telegraph
 
#3
Am not so sure that the thin of the wedge on this occasion is all bad although sure it will grate against the British concept of fair play and all that we are currently in conflict over.

Jurors are noted for making poor calls in court: can't hear the judge, don't understand the terminology and didn't want to be there in the first instance etc...etc. The recent kicking out of the Gary Linnekar case is a good example. It does seem a little heavy handed and insensitive though to say the least.
 
#5
Considering the generally cynical nature of all stickyposts, I am surprisingly in favour of this move. Having both worked in the court system and been witness to a colleague's jury service I can't help feel that it would be in the taxpayer's interest to get a result after splashing out £6m on a year-long trial (would you fancy serving on a jury for that long?). The fact is, some trials are horribly but necessarily complex and you do need the ability to assimilate and understand the whole picture before you can make a decision. Better that a trained judge does the job.

My colleague was forced to sit through a benefit fraud case involving seven or eight nigerians each of whom had about twenty nigerian pseudonyms spread over ten council addresses. The jury were expected to follow the blow-by-blow description of the fraud. It was not, as the DS love to say when shooting down a TEWT plan with too much audax and not enough celer, an 'act of war'.

Yes, I know this story is bound to attract the 'don't trust the system' votes but it really does make sense...as long as Neue Arbeit keep their distance.

Pigs fuelled and ready for take orf, Sir. :roll: Oops, there I go again.


Edited for sheer clumsiness.
 
#7
How many high profile, complex, extremely long and expensive to the taxpayer [you and me] cases have we seen over recent years where because the people in the dock can employ the best [eg., Carmen] lawyers to bamboozle 'Joe [often thick] Average' on a jury? Think BCCI?, think Maxwell family? thik Fayed?. Complicated cases required the best judical brains and I for one would approve of non-jury trials for offences.
 
#9
exile1 said:
How many high profile, complex, extremely long and expensive to the taxpayer [you and me] cases have we seen over recent years where because the people in the dock can employ the best [eg., Carmen] lawyers to bamboozle 'Joe [often thick] Average' on a jury? Think BCCI?, think Maxwell family? thik Fayed?. Complicated cases required the best judical brains and I for one would approve of non-jury trials for offences.


How many members of the public understand complex forensic evidence and the legality behind the suppression of evidence?

Should we not then dismiss the jury system totally?

And why one judge? Why not three as in the diplock system?

What is the average age of a High Court Judge in the UK? Their age of retirement is 75, 10 years above the rest of the populace.

The job of a judge is to instruct, I believe, he manages the court and the arguments to allow the best possible understanding by a jury. I would have to wonder, when we read so much about the sentences some of the judges in the UK hand out, is it a case of vast experience and the age of wisdom? Or hard to replace and as long as not openly senile!

Beebs
 

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