Juries – I’ve been on two, but then again, two few to mention

mirror2Vicky PryceDavid Allen Green puts one side of the Vicky Pryce Jury farce story…

Joshua Rozenberg gives a different, rather more sneering view.

Having been on juries twice, I am in agreement with Dave Allen Green that we do still need them as an element of balance, against the slide towards the rule of law by insiders…
However…
No jury member is allowed to speak of what was said in the jury room and no one can witness it… This is both a blessing and a curse. Until 2004 Lawyers were not allowed to be jury members, so I have experience that Rozenberg and Allen Green almost certainly do not have…

The two juries I sat on had a their share of idiots. In the first it was probably the sight of five or more jaws hitting the floor that made the Doofus guy pause… He had just demonstrated a level of stupidity one only expects to see in an NRA spokesperson, but the collective jaw drop made him listen to the suggestion from one of the more eloquent members, that he might want to consider the actual evidence and cease to spout opinions based on Daily Mail thinking entirely unrelated to the evidence he had supposedly heard.

In the second jury, I was voted chairman – on the basis that I had done it once before. In this instance, a hilarious case in which a farmer was guilty of stealing his own sheep. As the foreman I had to stand up and declare this, a nervy experience, calmed by hearing the judge read his long list of similar previous offences. In this jury we had three members who would have had trouble grasping the intellectual nuances of “The only way is Essex”.
It was down to the remaining jurors to convince these three that the law was clear, that Santa Claus was not involved, and that guilt was in fact proven beyond reasonable doubt – this was tricky when they had no idea what reason was.
When I read about the questions posed by the Pryce jury, my main, and lasting, thought was – “Oh shit, they managed to pluck a jury with a majority of Daily Mail readers this time”.

*(The Daily Mail managed to imply it was because the majority of the Pryce jury were black that they were stupid, thus providing further evidence for the long held notion that all Mail journalists should be banned from court reporting, owning a computer, speaking their “minds”, eating, breathing, or even fertilising any civilised person’s garden as rotting vegetable matter.)*

When you draw a random set of twelve people from British society you should expect an anomaly like this now and again… the worrying thing is how many times we may have had verdicts concluded on the basis of “we wanted to get home to watch Xfactor” rather than being dismissed due to asking dumb questions of the judge…

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