Thursday, 18 June 2009

First Trial Without Jury Approved

Buried on the BBC News website, among stories on Big Brother, was this little gem.

Wot No Jury

At first glance it all seems reasonable enough - allegations of jury tampering are countered by the Lord Chief Justice, and the best way to do away with jury tampering is to do away with the jury, right?

But this sets a dangerous precedent. The whole point of a jury is to ensure a rational, fair and democratic judgement on a case, and this is a right which has been an integral part of the legal process for centuries. Without a jury, a decision will be made by the judge alone - just that one person, which effectively destroys any hope of a fair trial. All you need is a judge with a slightly loose grip on reality - which, some would say, is most of them - and you could have your entire life made or broken by this person without the rational, reasonable debate initiated by a jury.

It is yet another fundamental and ages-old democratic, civil right which, unfortunately, is now being cast by the roadside.

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