Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Instant karma

In the wake of the Phil Spector trial, what do people think of the US system of allowing members of the jury to comment afterwards on why they reached their verdict?


Elby the Beserk said...

Oh. They still have jury trials there do they? How liberal minded.

marksany said...

I've been a juror on an attempted murder trial and it was a very interesting experience. One of the things that surprised me was how little instruction was given to the jury and what was given was pretty obtuse. We were just put into a jury room and left to get on with it. The decision making process was up to us and was pretty random - not a good thing when deciding someone's fate.

I got the impression that the professionals have no idea what goes on in a jury room. They thought we'd be ten minutes and we took several hours. If we'd had the chance to ask questions on process or talk to the lawyers it would have been better.

Maybe the US process of explaining your decision does that - but I wouldn't want to do it, and I wouldn't want to be in the media spotlight.

Kerry said...

Congratulations, you've inspired a special new award on this website. Make the most of it while you can - the competition is going to be tough, so tough.

Kerry said...

Oops, can I make it very clear that my comment was in response to Mr the Berserk, and not Marksany who is to be congratulated for submitting what is probably the most sensible comment on this blog in ages.

I've never done jury service - not allowed (MPs are, and they do, but lawyers certainly didn't used to be, on the grounds that everyone would bow to our 'superior' knowledge. I have a feeling that might have changed). Anyway, I think jurors are allowed to send notes to the judge if they needed things explaining. If they didn't make that clear to you, that's not good.

Your account of jury service also very neatly illustrates why the Government has removed juries from the most complex fraud trials (which is what Mr the Beserk is obliquely referring to, although he may be under the genuine impression that ZanuLab as he no doubt calls us have removed the right to jury trial in all circumstances, in which case he should do his homework before he starts ranting).

Some of these fraud trials last more than a year, involve hugely complex arguments and masses of evidence, and quite frankly no-one was being convicted. If the SFO was on payment by results, it would have been bankrupt long ago.

timbone said...

I remember watching the Louise Woodward case on Sky TV in 1997. I was living with a recently qualified LLB and was fascinated by the live coverage in an American courtroom and being told comparisons with the British judicial system.

I think in that particular case, the decision by the judge to change the verdict from murder to manslaughter, and sentence Louise Woodward to 'time served' was correct.

I wonder if the fact that the jury were allowed to communicate their decision making helped. I wonder if this would have prevented the wrong verdict in some British cases.

Rumpole of the Bailey was good, but Perry Mason was better.

Hookers And Gin said...

As I understand it, America has always had that but we had it taken away. Is that right? Given that Janet Herbert, a juror on Barry George's trial, had a lot to say about it but couldn't, I feel it's time for a reversal.

I'm intrigued by the situation with complex fraud trials. If, as you say, nobody was being convicted, what's the situation now? Has it been tested yet? How I feel about this one hinges on the conviction rate.

Kerry said...

I don't think juries in this country have ever been allowed to speak after the trial. Might be wrong, but as far as I know that's always been the case. As for the fraud trials without juries, the legislation stalled in the Lords:


I used to love Crown Court when I was very young, especially when the judge put the black hat on to sentence someone to death. Heard the theme tune played on Radio 2 the other day, brought back memories.

marksany said...

Thanks for calling me sensible - not something I am often accused of! I'll have to make sure I'm less sensible in future.

Without having seen Crown court, Rumpole and 12 Angry Men, I would have been clueless in the trial I was on! In fact it was just like 12 angry men, with me in the role of Henry Fonda. The verdict would have been the opposite of what was decided, if I hadn't been there.

Hookers And Gin said...

I could have sworn I read somewhere of the right of jurors to speak after the trial being removed, possibly as recently as the fifties, but I can find no mention of it. Oh well, memory ain't what it used to be...

As regards fraud trials, your comment led me to believe it had happened already. Thanks for the link.