Letter: Deaf jurors
Friday 14 May 1999
Sir: So the Government is planning to allow deaf people and those who do not speak English to sit on juries (report, 8 May).
To facilitate this latest piece of dangerous nonsense it is proposed that the law should be changed so that those proficient in the use of the deaf/dumb sign language, together with interpreters, should be allowed to sit in with a jury whilst it deliberates on its verdict.
It is not merely that other jurors might find it less easy to conduct their discussion under such conditions, but one would manifestly be weakening in a dangerous fashion the fairness of a trial if you had amongst the jury those who could not hear the accused, witnesses, judge and counsel and others who could hear but could not comprehend what was said. It is ludicrous.
The idea seems to have been spread abroad that it is more important to allow everyone a crack at jury service or sitting as a lay magistrate, whatever their infirmities, than to ensure a fair trail for all.
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