Saturday, 20 March 2010

Our Professional Justice System...

The question every jury is asked when returning a verdict is: "Is it unanimous?" Not a particularly complicated enquiry, but one which proved confusing for one Old Bailey foreman. On Thursday, the jury in the murder case of Chrisdian Johnson, the 22-year-old who used his dog to maul his victim before stabbing him to death, returned a unanimous verdict.
Or, did they..?
But as the news channels were reporting Johnson's conviction, a phone rang in the Old Bailey. One of the jurors had called the court to say the verdict was not unanimous.

Given that Judge Christopher Moss had not given the jurors permission to return a majority verdict, there was a question mark over whether the verdict could stand. And so yesterday, after a series of phone calls to get the jury back to court, Thursday's verdict was nullified and the jury was sent out again, this time with a majority direction, and told to reconvene. They returned less than an hour later with a majority verdict of 10-2.
So, all's well that ends well, right?

The bizarre episode has led to suggestions that the confusion could open the door for Johnson's defence to appeal, not least because yesterday morning's newspapers carried potentially prejudicial reports of his guilt before he had technically been convicted.


Quiet_Man said...

I know cost is an issue, but this really should have gone to a retrial rather than a recall, if there was the slightest doubt that the verdict had been prejudiced by what happened.

I've often thought that it might be an interesting move to have professional jurors though, people trained to be impartial and capable of weighing the evidence properly. Though how we'd factor in common sense to anyone like that still eludes me :-D

sobers said...

I'd prefer to take my chances with 12 ordinary citizens, even if they don't know what unanimous means. The day we go to a panel of State selected professional jurors is the day we finally become a bona fide Police State.

Anonymous said...

.....indeed and if you are ever on the wrong side of the dock then a modern day jury could be your salvation, God help any of us from a jury of the intelligent, articulate and interested! I can't ever rememebr seeing many like that at Inner London or Snarebrook CCs. BAck in the early 70's I recall reading that the only way anyone would get convicted at Snaresbrook was if they stood up and loudly and unmistakably shouted GUILTY several times in response to the charge(s).

Mike said...

Oh absolutely, no, no, no, no, no to anything other than a random panel of the public that unless under exceptional circumstances like do they know the plaintiff or the accused would be far worse than the system we have.

The system we have at the moment is of course regularly shown to be unfit for purpose however that is surely more to do with clearly insane judges, legal professionals totally uninterested in justice and fixated on earnings and results regardless of facts and finally the police and CPS colluding to obtain and produce evidence that supports their cause rather than discover the truth the whole truth and nothing but.

My brushes with the law and courts have thankfully given me and in fact us all the right verdicts. This no thanks to the police, CPS or judges and only because on one occasion my defence team actually got off their arse to track down witnesses that unknown to me had overheard very important facts on the other occasion my accuser eventually appears to have decided to grow up and get on with her life rather than abuse the system in some personal vendetta.

I'm missing something here, will probably have to read into this case more carefully but did this guy not stab his victim and set his dog on them but not in that order? A type of dog that with the greatest of respect I see no reason why an owner would not muzzle in public, I like most of us do not intend to crash my car when I drive but I still wear a seatbelt.

On the subject of the relative stupidity of jurors my experience tells me that they are regularly presented with irrelevant details and often strange language. I have to accept unanimous is not the most difficult of words to understand but then try asking for a black coffee in some parts of London, they either think your racist or stare at you blankly waiting for an order in some other language. Anywho, in my rape trial that should never have happened I remember a gallery packed with about 300 school kids aged between 7 and 15 listen to me on day five explain what it felt like to receive a blowjob in the shower and various other answers to what seemed odd questions of a sexual nature. Given that I always said we had had sex the only issue was consent why all the questions about lubricant etc lord only knows! Perhaps to confuse or otherwise upset a jury? He got a blowjob in his shower, he must be a sinner!!!

Furor Teutonicus said...

And who would employ these "proffessional" jurors?

The same arseholes that employ the bin police? "Car clampers? Plastic plod?

THAT worked well, didn't it?