Sunday, 14 August 2011


Stuff reports on the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill which “aims to reduce the number of jury trials by raising the threshold from offences punishable by three months' jail, to those punishable by three years”. The headline reads, “Judging Alone Not Real Justice”. I don’t think so.

There are two basic categories of offences and a third that is a hybrid of the first two.

1. Summary Offences – the smaller stuff like: dangerous driving, breach of periodic detention, cannabis supply.
2. Indictable Offences – the big stuff like: rape, murder, arson, supply of class A drugs
3. The hybrid – Summary Offences triable indictably: covering crimes in between.

A Summary Offence means the accused is heard by a judge alone (as opposed to a judge and jury) in the District Court. The hybrid, the Summary Offence triable indictably, means the accused may elect trial by jury. An Indictable Offence means trial by jury for the accused.

I am a lawyer by training. Let me tell you if I was charged with a summary offence triable indictably, and I was innocent, I would definitely elect to have my case heard by a judge alone. If I were guilty I would choose trial by jury. There will be a wealth of precious academic comment from the legal community supporting trial by jury, but, I would wager most lawyers would elect to do the same as me in practice.

Draw your own conclusion.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Lambcut, here you and I are on the same railroad track.

As far as I know, most intelligent and or productive people find a way to avoid jury duty, leaving the task to dole bludgers and sufferers of dementia.

One hopes most judges fall outside those categories.

Lambcut said...

Adolf, I flatter myself enough to think that you and I are rarely if ever on the same “railroad track”. I am sure that we have coincidentally arrived at the same conclusion based on very different reasoning.

Not the least reason (in my case) is that a judge will uphold the rule of law so that even a guilty person will avoid conviction if the state has not been put adequately to the burden of its proof, according to due process. In that case the guilt or innocence of the accused is irrelevant. The Crown’s case must fail because the state is not entitled to a conviction. Even the likes of you Adolf, do not want to live in a country where the state can convict an individual when it is not entitled.

Juries, who are after all a reflection of the general public, often fail to recognise the significance of process in relation to liberty and freedom.

Lambcut said...

You deserve in my view to be sentenced to life in Gaza for 10 years, under a Palestinian identity. But you won't get what you deserve because you have a nationality that gives you freedom of movement, residence and return.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.