Letter: Trial by jury
Sir: If, for serious crimes, you support the rigmarole of jury trials because so much is at stake for the defendant, how then can you justify removal of the defendant's right to a jury trial in cases which manifestly threaten a life-ruining outcome for a defendant? Offences involving sex and dishonesty are cases in point.
Currently, criminal offences are divided into three sorts: minor offences only triable by magistrates; offences which can be tried by magistrates or juries; and serious offences which only be tried by juries. The rationale is that the jury trial is a better, safer way to try the more serious cases, and a way that bolsters public confidence in the criminal justice system.
In earlier times, judges would often fine or imprison jurors who persisted in returning verdicts at variance with the preference of the bench. In 1671 a case established that juries should be immune from punishment for their verdicts. Trial judges meddling with jury verdicts, however, was nothing compared with the Government's plan to rule out jury trials for whole categories of serious offence.
And for what justification? The price of a few rooms in the ostentatious new palace of MPs offices.
Dr GARY SLAPPER
The Law Programme
The Open University
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Arts & Ents blogs
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Hangover III star Heather Graham: I'll miss playing a sexy stripper because my real life is pretty boring
Hollywood practices random acts of red-carpet kindness
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Cannes Film Festival 2013: And why exactly are vous here?
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.