Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Juries out

The Government is to announce proposals to abandon the long established English legal principle of trial by jury in "burdensome" fraud cases. Given the collapse of high profile fraud cases such as the Jubilee line fraud before reaching a verdict, it does seem sensible that the prosecution should be able to apply for long or complex fraud cases to be heard without a jury. Currently, it appears that if alleged fraudsters make their scheme sufficiently complex, they will not be convicted as juries will be baffled by the complexities of the case.

My main concern is whether other complex but non-fraud related trials will eventually become juryless too. Terrorist trials in Northern Ireland are already carried out without juries to prevent intimidation. Whether further creep would be a good thing too, the jury's out.

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