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B854 - Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill (Second Reading) watch

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    (Original post by Jammy Duel)
    You think the average person is pure an innocent, how naïve do you get?!

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    I wasn't speaking from my own opinion, I was merely explaining what a jury is to the leader of the Green Party
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Happy to answer any questions.
    Where'd you come up with the idea?
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    (Original post by James Milibanter)
    I wasn't speaking from my own opinion, I was merely explaining what a jury is to the leader of the Green Party
    It's OK - although he has a point

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    Aye from me.
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    (Original post by Andy98)
    It's OK - although he has a point

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    A point that was irrelevant, he's being a devil's advocate
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    (Original post by James Milibanter)
    A point that was irrelevant, he's being a devil's advocate
    Someone has to be

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    Despite my preference to conserve the current legal system, as I see its integrity as more than satisfactory, I shall be abstaining.
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    (Original post by thehistorybore)
    Despite my preference to conserve the current legal system, as I see its integrity as more than satisfactory, I shall be abstaining.
    Agreed, but I'll be voting nay.
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    Aye
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    I have my doubts on this Bill, very well intentioned as it is. Juries have been one of the foundations of English Law for centuries, and this changes their role markedly. The system has their flaws, but having judges make the final verdict and pick the questions to ask seems to have just as many if not more.

    I wonder if victims of crime would feel more confident at a judge essentially making the verdict instead of a jury.
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    Aye. An excellent bill.

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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Happy to answer any questions.
    Do you realise that para 1.2 calls for the judge to formulate the entire case in a series of yes/no questions. In a complex trial this will be impossible, and, anyway, the judge could easily miss one or more, or formulate some wrongly. Judges are not logicians (and logicians do not necessarily make good judges).
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    (Original post by James Milibanter)

    (Original post by Life_peer)

    (Original post by Wellzi)
    Nay. A jury is the least corruptible method of vindication, and meddling with the jury system is something I won't be involved in.
    Aye as before. Finally something questioning the poor competence of juries and addressing the issues.
    Life peer addresses this well.
    Wellzi is correct, having the decisions decided by a single judge will increase the chances of corruption, allow personal feelings to affect decision making, and lead to more appeals after a verdict is passed. Using a plausible, hypothetical exchange in a court for a judge deciding a person's fate in a rape case with victim X, under this bill the inadequacies of the legal system would create different answers.

    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find the accused knew Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X gave verbal consent?
    Jury: No

    After asking the questions above the judge could reach the conclusion the accused committed rape by having sex with a drunk woman who was incapable of giving consent. But the outcome could be different if the judge asked different questions:

    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was in control of her own actions?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X said she did not want sex?
    Jury: No
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X instigated the sexual encounter?
    Jury: Yes

    In this example the conclusion would be the accused did not commit rape, I like to believe the judge will always ask the right set of questions but when there is only one judge deciding with personal feelings after hearing all of the events, the outcome will always be biased to the opinions of the judge. The desired alternative to jury systems would be to address their weakness, not replace them, juries should consist of people who know the law.

    This bill reminds me of the scene from Yes Prime Minister when the discussion takes place about a poll returning unanimous results for any desired answer when the questions asked changed slightly. I encourage all members to watch the video before making a final decision on a bill that puts the fate of a person's life in the hand of one person who may not ask the right questions.

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    (Original post by James Milibanter)
    Where'd you come up with the idea?
    News articles about the inadequacy of jury trials.

    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Do you realise that para 1.2 calls for the judge to formulate the entire case in a series of yes/no questions. In a complex trial this will be impossible, and, anyway, the judge could easily miss one or more, or formulate some wrongly. Judges are not logicians (and logicians do not necessarily make good judges).
    Most crimes are formulated as a series of cumulative elements. For instance, theft is a) dishonest b) appropriation c) of another's property (though I might argue that this is a question of law) d) with the intention to permanently deprive. For certain more complex crimes, I believe juries should be abandoned altogether (for instance, the few instances of financial crime which are still tried by jury - I strongly doubt your average juror will be capable of understanding most of the evidence in these cases, but this isn't made any worse by the Bill in question), but that Bill would be a) more controversial, b) drier and tougher to read and write, c) needing of much more legal research than this one.

    Logic is a strong element of the law (probably the most of the social sciences), and as judges are nearly always previous barristers, I suspect you're underestimating their logical ability.
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    (Original post by Nigel Farage MEP)
    Wellzi is correct, having the decisions decided by a single judge will increase the chances of corruption, allow personal feelings to affect decision making, and lead to more appeals after a verdict is passed. Using a plausible, hypothetical exchange in a court for a judge deciding a person's fate in a rape case with victim X, under this bill the inadequacies of the legal system it would leave are clear:

    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find the accused knew Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X gave verbal consent?
    Jury: No

    After asking the questions above the judge could reach the conclusion the accused committed rape by having sex with a drunk woman who was incapable of giving consent. But the outcome could be different if the judge asked different questions:

    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was intoxicated?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X was in control of her own actions?
    Jury: Yes
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X said she did not want sex?
    Jury: No
    Judge: Does the jury find Victim X instigated the sexual encounter?
    Jury: Yes

    In this example the conclusion would be the accused did not commit rape, I like to believe the judge will always ask the right set of questions but when there is only one judge deciding with personal feelings after hearing all of the events, the outcome will always be biased to the opinions of the judge. The desired alternative to jury systems would be to address their weaknesses, not replace them; juries should consist of legal professional who know the law, that way the law is known but the different opinions in cases that are non clear cut remain.

    TheDefiniteArticle Please defend the bill against the criticism I am giving it; the judge may not ask the right questions, the personal feeling will get in the way when cases are not clear cut, and the better alternative is to have a jury of experts fulfilling the same role as the jury.
    This is a good question. I'd like first to address your proposal that juries be made up of legal professionals. Frankly, I believe that would be an inoperable system for a number of reasons: 1) legal professionals are prone to unconsciously exceeding the role required of a juror when in that position (for any amount of anecdotal evidence you want, just go on a law forum - not the one on TSR but one occupied by professionals - try Roll On Friday or the comments sections on Legal Cheek - and search 'Legal Services Act'); 2) the whole point of a jury is to be representative of the community as a whole; if you're going to do this you may as well do away with juries altogether, especially given the legal profession is still dominated by white Oxbridge-educated (or at least RG-educated) men; 3) tied to the previous point, we risk seeing a disparity in convictions based on race/class as well as the crime in question; 4) the legal world isn't that big, so for them to manage to cover all jury trials, every legal professional would be spending a significant amount of their time in a jury; 5) you would see a significant increase in pre-trial administration as many would be disqualified for knowing those representing either the Crown or the defendant respectively (this would only increase over time as people got to know each other through sitting in juries together).

    Secondly, I'd like to say that this criticism is the very reason for which I included s4. Regarding your example, I'd suggest that consent is a single question of fact rather than a question of law for a judge to decide based on the answers to questions (though there is a debate in legal academia about this question), so this situation would not arise.

    Thirdly, here's a hypothetical jury situation which anecdotal evidence suggests happens unfortunately regularly in the current system, which I think is far worse:

    Juror 1: "So did he do it?"
    Juror 2: "Well, [counsel for the prosecution] says he did, and he seemed like he knew what he was talking about."
    All: "Aye".
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    This is a really interesting bill but I'm not sure if it's an aye. I think I am likely to abstain, though I could be swayed either way.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    This is a good question. I'd like first to address your proposal that juries be made up of legal professionals. Frankly, I believe that would be an inoperable system for a number of reasons: 1) legal professionals are prone to unconsciously exceeding the role required of a juror when in that position (for any amount of anecdotal evidence you want, just go on a law forum - not the one on TSR but one occupied by professionals - try Roll On Friday or the comments sections on Legal Cheek - and search 'Legal Services Act'; 2) the whole point of a jury is to be representative of the community as a whole; if you're going to do this you may as well do away with juries altogether, especially given the legal profession is still dominated by white Oxbridge-educated (or at least RG-educated) men; 3) tied to the previous point, we risk seeing a disparity in convictions based on race/class as well as the crime in question; 4) the legal world isn't that big, so for them to manage to cover all jury trials, every legal professional would be spending a significant amount of their time in a jury; 5) you would see a significant increase in pre-trial administration as many would be disqualified for knowing those representing either the Crown or the defendant respectively (this would only increase over time as people got to know each other through sitting in juries together).

    Secondly, I'd like to say that this criticism is the very reason for which I included s4. Regarding your example, I'd suggest that consent is a single question of fact rather than a question of law for a judge to decide based on the answers to questions (though there is a debate in legal academia about this question), so this situation would not arise.

    Thirdly, here's a hypothetical jury situation which anecdotal evidence suggests happens unfortunately regularly in the current system, which I think is far worse:

    Juror 1: "So did he do it?"
    Juror 2: "Well, [counsel for the prosecution] says he did, and he seemed like he knew what he was talking about."
    All: "Aye".
    Points 2, and 3 are minor points, there is nothing wrong with having Oxbridge, white males dominate the jury system if that is what is required; the best people from the best universities is ideal. The attempts to match up minorities in juries to meet reflection of the country is only done for political reason as the ethnicity of someone does not alter their ability, conversely, it could be said the ethnicity of someone could impact the case in a perverse way if the juror grew up in a culture where a man raping his wife is seen as legitimate. In a rape case involving a husband and wife the juror could hold out against any legal advice given to continually vote no when asked if the defendant committed rape. Any possibility of disparity in convictions would only come from juries being biased against minority ethnicities or races but that is an unprovable point to make in the UK.

    The remaining points are fair point but the solution is to reform who can be on the jury to have the right fit of people. Having legal academics filling up all juries would be difficult to sustain, however, the right person for a jury is someone who thinks about things without treating something as definite. My anecdotal evidence of jury service is similar to how you describe but with a split between those capable of forming a decent jury and those incapable of forming one. Jury service could be limited to a selection of people who need to apply for it; a graduate from a top university who does not work in the legal field but has many years of education will be more suitable to a complex case than someone with fewer years of education and a lack of rational understanding. Using further anecdotal evidence we both know at school and at university there was the person who struggled to understand information given to them, or struggled to critically analyse things they were told; these people should not form juries. I suggest jury service introduces a register people need to apply to join after undergoing tests to check their suitability, this would be more costly but it will return a higher level of quality of jurors selected.

    Section four I do not understand, it does no alter the possibility of judges asking the wrong questions to return an answer to suit an opinion. The change in this bill keeps fact finding with the jury but the selection of facts used to make a decision in the hands of one person; a person who will have an opinion on the status of the defendant. This bill introduces a hybrid of trial by jury and trial by a panel of judges, a preferred option to this bill which does not capture the best parts of both systems.
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    Mr Speaker,

    I must agree with my right honourable friend NigelFarageMEP. It is a Nay from me.
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    (Original post by Nigel Farage MEP)
    Points 2, and 3 are minor points, there is nothing wrong with having Oxbridge, white males dominate the jury system if that is what is required; the best people from the best universities is ideal.
    This completely misses the point of juries. It's not a meritocracy - it's based on the constitutional right to be tried by one's peers (though I should note I don't support this right, I do think it would be too controversial to produce a Bill which challenges it directly).

    The attempts to match up minorities in juries to meet reflection of the country is only done for political reason as the ethnicity of someone does not alter their ability, conversely, it could be said the ethnicity of someone could impact the case in a perverse way if the juror grew up in a culture where a man raping his wife is seen as legitimate.
    It's not an attempt to match up minorities, but rather to make it random. Some cultures will, unfortunately, be underrepresented on juries as a result of being underrepresented on the electoral roll, but that cannot be avoided without a database of people being created (something I also support, but which, again, I feel to be too controversially authoritarian for my first Bill in this house).

    Your latter concern is unfounded. First, the jurors are not asked to reach conclusions on the ethics of a situation; they are asked to reach conclusions on the facts. Secondly, this would happen to a much greater extent under the present system.

    In a rape case involving a husband and wife the juror could hold out against any legal advice given to continually vote no when asked if the defendant committed rape. Any possibility of disparity in convictions would only come from juries being biased against people of different ethnic background or races but this is an unprovable point in the UK that is an unprovable point to make.
    This, I agree, is a fault with juries in general, but you must see that this Bill is a step in the right direction in this regard - and I suspect a complete removal of juries would be unable to pass this House (though I recommend you write one and I will vote in favour if it doesn't include anything too UKIP-y). In the meantime, the fact that this Bill is an improvement - in this measure, at the bare minimum, surely indicates you ought to vote in favour, even if it's not everything you would ask for?

    The remaining points are fair point but the solution is to reform who can be on the jury to have the right fit of people. Having legal academics filling up all juries would be difficult to sustain, however, the right person for a jury is someone who thinks about things without treating something as definite. My anecdotal evidence of jury service is similar to how you describe but with a split between those capable of forming a decent jury and those incapable of forming one. Jury service could be limited to a selection of people who need to apply for it; a graduate from a top university who does not work in the legal field but has many years of education will be more suitable to a complex case than someone with fewer years of education and a lack of rational understanding. Using further anecdotal evidence we both know at school and at university there was the person who struggled to understand information given to them, or struggled to critically analyse things they were told; these people should not form juries. I suggest jury service introduces a register people need to apply to join after undergoing tests to check their suitability, this would be more costly but it will return a higher level of quality in the jurors selected.
    Again, I don't think this could be achieved while still calling it a jury; and it is a step which would be pointless considering the whole merit of juries is removed and at that stage one ought to simply get rid of juries altogether.

    Section four I do not understand, it does no alter the possibility of judges asking the wrong questions to return an answer to suit an opinion. The change in this bill keeps fact finding with the jury but the selection of facts used to make a decision in the hands of one person; a person who will have an opinion on the status of the defendant. The bill introduces a hybrid system of trial by jury and trial by a panel of judges, which is a preferred option over the option this bill presents.
    It does to a considerable extent. This guidance will make it quite obvious what the right and wrong questions are, and let's remember that asking the wrong questions will be grounds for appeal, so first instance judges will be quite careful about the questions they ask.
 
 
 
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