Predictably, it did not take long before a copper (or in this case an ex-copper who quit or had to quit?), popped up to tell us all that it is time to have Judge only trials. No doubt, those who wish to be Home Secretary or Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor on May 7th will be salivating at the prospect… CUT (costs) and BURN (Villains).
Andy Hayman was Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations at the Metropolitan Police. He has managed to persuade The Times to give him some air time – perhaps it was a quiet news day? – to tell us….
Twelve good men no longer guarantee truth
As crime gets more sophisticated, sometimes the jury system will not be able to cope.
Hayman makes some ‘apparently’ perfectly reasonable – if rather well known points… about the length and complexity of cases citing a rather bizarre illustration…
In one case, an expert investigator told me that if they had printed off the relevant data from the confiscated hard drives you could have physically filled the 13 floors of New Scotland Yard.
So? Some cases may well be complex – is that a reason to chop the jury? He also tells us that unless we have served on a jury we cannot possibly know how difficult it is and that he has spoken to a lot of jurors...”most describe mixed feelings when the summoning letter arrives in the post. They feel proud to have a chance to fulfil their public duty but also dread being selected for a case that may mean a year swallowed up, poring over complex, and in some cases, distressing evidence.”
I can only assume that Mr Hayman has served on a jury in such a complex trial and he appears to be unaware of the rule that Jurors are not supposed to discuss what happens in the jury room with anyone… or has that gone by the board since those dark distant days when Professor Smith and Professor Griew wrote about Criminal Law in their respective textbooks? I cannot imagine that he was talking to jurors before the trial… well… perhaps such is imaginable but, one assumes, did not happen.
I repeat … I am not a criminal lawyer – but the fair number of criminal lawyers I have spoken to are very much in favour of the jury. Certainly, there is the well known aphorism that if you are innocent go for trial by judge alone and if guilty…try your luck in front of the jury.. but that is an aphorism and not a factual observation of scientific study supported by clear evidence.
I’m with the criminal law experts on this. We have to retain trial by jury, we have to watch mission creep and we certainly do not need to hear from policemen who should have no part in the criminal justice system following investigation and arrest.
We are not a Stasi East German style state yet…despite the best endeavours, it would seem, of some on both the left and right…. and we certainly do not want to become one.