Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We Need to Change How To Deal With Our Jurors

I have read that when Jeffrey Archer won his libel case in 1986, the Jury demanded £500.000 from the Daily Star. I have sometimes wondered about these jurors. Was the foreman still alive fourteen years later when Archer was imprisoned for perjury, did he and other Jurors boast to friends dinner parties afterwards and feel a fool afterwards, did any of the Jury feel a bit stupid! I am sure that some of them did and in this particular case felt used!
It is very easy, especially in politics and the media, to mock those who do not share our judgements and our knowledge if they do and say things we do not agree with! But how many of us have made public pronouncements out of ignorance and pre-conceived prejudices and have made an error of judgement in the process! I for one certainly feel a bit queasy about that, particularly if I have been condescending and high handed in my views
So it is that I am not prepared to write off the Jury in the Vicky Pryce case as being thick as many on Twitter have done this afternoon! Yes they showed breathtaking ignorance, but equally they showed that they wanted to do the right thing. What could be argued is that perhaps in future, particularly with important and also high profile cases, Jurors are given a crash beginners legal course in a week or fortnight leading up to a trial, and those who do not do so well are filtered out! It's a casual idea, but while I do believe in selecting twelve people from all walks of life in listening to a case and making a judgement, I do believe the system needs some reform

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