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B854 - Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill watch

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    B854 - Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill, TSR Socialist Party



    Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill 2015

    A Bill to remove the requirement for juries to interpret the law

    BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

    1. Change in jury directions
    1. At the end of criminal trials with a jury, the judge(s) shall refrain from explaining the law to the jury asking them to return a verdict on this basis.
    2. Instead, the judge should ask a series of factual questions, the answers to which will provide the factual background against which the legal issues can be decided.
    3. Based on the facts found, the judge shall make the verdict.
    4. The ordinary jury procedures will apply for findings of fact; the judge should treat a non-positive finding for any essential factual element as introducing reasonable doubt.


    2. Change in procedure during trials

    Any points of law discussed in a jury trial should be done with the jury outside the room.

    3. Legal consequences of non-compliance
    1. Non-compliance with section 1 above shall result in a mistrial.
    2. Non-compliance with section 2 above may be a ground for a mistrial at the discretion of the appropriate appellate court, who should decide based on an assessment of whether, and to what extent the jury may have been affected by the non-compliance.


    4. Commencement, Short Title and Extent
    1. This Act may be referred to as the Criminal Law Act 2015.
    2. This Act will extend to the United Kingdom; and;
    3. This Act shall come into force immediately




    Notes
    Approximate costings:
    Spoiler:
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    This should be free - please tell me if you can see any reason why not.


    Policy explanation:
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    Juries are notoriously bad at understanding the law (https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads...r-research.pdf p35-7). By taking the responsibility for questions of law out of their hands and into the hands of the professional, this reduces the possibility of serious miscarriages of justice, and should reduce the court time and costs spent on appeals. It can also help to reduce the 'postcode lottery' element of criminal trials, and reduce the stigmatisation of certain offences.
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    This is rather interesting.

    My one question, legal definitions may be long and intricate, but surely that's in order for it to be as objective and fair as possible, what's the point in law if this goes ahead? Also, aren't the facts used in determining whether or not an act has been taken in offence of the law or not?

    (btw, I don't have a law degree or any formal, or otherwise, qualification in law so if I'm talking out of my harris then just let me know and I'll happily shut up)
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    Excellent! May I please ask who is the author of this bill?

    I haven't had the time to review the research report in full yet but as I was the one who tried to abolish juries for apparently similar reasons back in 2010, I very much support this idea which I see as a good compromise.
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    I like this, its an interesting reform. But this reduces the power of a jury significantly does it not?
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    Aye.
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    (Original post by Life_peer)
    Excellent! May I please ask who is the author of this bill?.
    That would be the wonderful TheDefiniteArticle
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    Aye
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    (Original post by Republic1)
    That would be the wonderful TheDefiniteArticle
    I had a good feeling about him.
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    Details, details. Namely, what questions?
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    (Original post by James Milibanter)
    This is rather interesting.

    My one question, legal definitions may be long and intricate, but surely that's in order for it to be as objective and fair as possible, what's the point in law if this goes ahead? Also, aren't the facts used in determining whether or not an act has been taken in offence of the law or not?

    (btw, I don't have a law degree or any formal, or otherwise, qualification in law so if I'm talking out of my harris then just let me know and I'll happily shut up)
    Legal definitions are often somewhat long and intricate, and yes, that can't be changed. What can be changed is requiring the jury, rather than just the judge, to understand the law. Under this Bill, the jury still has complete discretion over the relevant findings of fact to make, and in that sense the jury is still reaching the verdict. This simply removes the chance that they misunderstand the law, and arguably reduces the chance of them reaching verdicts through spiteful/capricious reasoning.

    (Original post by RayApparently)
    I like this, its an interesting reform. But this reduces the power of a jury significantly does it not?
    As mentioned above, I believe this only reduces the power of the jury to make wrong decisions, or to make decisions for the wrong reasons.

    Just as a brief example, the way I foresee this working in a murder trial:

    Judge: "Members of the jury, there are a number of questions which you must decide:
    1) Did Billy cause the death of Bob?
    2) Did Billy intend to cause the death of Bob?
    3) Did Billy intend to cause Bob serious bodily harm?"

    (Original post by Jammy Duel)
    Details, details. Namely, what questions?
    Can't set out detailed guides for every offence - there are too many. Where the definition of 'questions of fact' is unclear, this should be considered a delegation to decide the meaning of 'question of fact' to the courts.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Legal definitions are often somewhat long and intricate, and yes, that can't be changed. What can be changed is requiring the jury, rather than just the judge, to understand the law. Under this Bill, the jury still has complete discretion over the relevant findings of fact to make, and in that sense the jury is still reaching the verdict. This simply removes the chance that they misunderstand the law, and arguably reduces the chance of them reaching verdicts through spiteful/capricious reasoning.
    Good, very good. If I were an MP I'd give this the biggest "Aye" the world has ever seen!
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Legal definitions are often somewhat long and intricate, and yes, that can't be changed. What can be changed is requiring the jury, rather than just the judge, to understand the law. Under this Bill, the jury still has complete discretion over the relevant findings of fact to make, and in that sense the jury is still reaching the verdict. This simply removes the chance that they misunderstand the law, and arguably reduces the chance of them reaching verdicts through spiteful/capricious reasoning.



    As mentioned above, I believe this only reduces the power of the jury to make wrong decisions, or to make decisions for the wrong reasons.

    Just as a brief example, the way I foresee this working in a murder trial:

    Judge: "Members of the jury, there are a number of questions which you must decide:
    1) Did Billy cause the death of Bob?
    2) Did Billy intend to cause the death of Bob?
    3) Did Billy intend to cause Bob serious bodily harm?"



    Can't set out detailed guides for every offence - there are too many. Where the definition of 'questions of fact' is unclear, this should be considered a delegation to decide the meaning of 'question of fact' to the courts.
    I think the example given is a poor one as the jury would have to be particularly inept to make a different decision to the judge her.
    Obviously yes to all 3 is murder
    No to second would be at least ABH yes only to the first would be manslaughter, but in the example given what are the only 3 verdicts they can really give? Guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty, given I would assume it to be a murder trial.

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    (Original post by Jammy Duel)
    I think the example given is a poor one as the jury would have to be particularly inept to make a different decision to the judge her.
    Obviously yes to all 3 is murder
    No to second would be at least ABH yes only to the first would be manslaughter, but in the example given what are the only 3 verdicts they can really give? Guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty, given I would assume it to be a murder trial.

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    Okay, let's try a different one for the statutory offence of theft:

    1) Did the defendant appropriate the property he is alleged to have stolen?
    2) Did the defendant intend to return the property at a later date?
    3) Would an honest person have appropriated the property?

    Questions of law:

    1) At the time of the appropriation, did the property belong to another?

    Edit: Also, I guess if it's really important that the jury doesn't know what is important (which I don't think it is, but I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise), you could mix in some irrelevant questions.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Okay, let's try a different one for the statutory offence of theft:

    1) Did the defendant appropriate the property he is alleged to have stolen?
    2) Did the defendant intend to return the property at a later date?
    3) Would an honest person have appropriated the property?

    Questions of law:

    1) At the time of the appropriation, did the property belong to another?

    Edit: Also, I guess if it's really important that the jury doesn't know what is important (which I don't think it is, but I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise), you could mix in some irrelevant questions.
    Better

    Probably going to stick to an abstention though, I think there should be some regulation based on the judge, not to suggest they would act inappropriately, but after all, we are supposed to be being tried by a Jury of our peers.
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    So the people are asked if they believe certain things and then if they do the judge decides if the law was broken based on their responses? Interesting idea...
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    (Original post by Republic1)
    That would be the wonderful TheDefiniteArticle
    Personal rep given. :cool:
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    A really interesting concept, and the more I think about it, the more I like it!

    I would like some reassurance though that all these questions will be put to the jury in public, so the judge's decision can be examined.
    I imagine that there will be some cost in compiling guidance on what questions to ask - there would need to be a standard rubric which judges can use in all cases to ensure all trials are handled equally. Costing this is pretty much impossible though, so I wouldn't expect it. However, I would prefer the commencement date to be delayed slightly to give the legal profession sufficient time to come up with the right, non-leading, questions.
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    I am very skeptical. How is this necessary?
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    (Original post by Actaeon)
    A really interesting concept, and the more I think about it, the more I like it!

    I would like some reassurance though that all these questions will be put to the jury in public, so the judge's decision can be examined.
    I imagine that there will be some cost in compiling guidance on what questions to ask - there would need to be a standard rubric which judges can use in all cases to ensure all trials are handled equally. Costing this is pretty much impossible though, so I wouldn't expect it. However, I would prefer the commencement date to be delayed slightly to give the legal profession sufficient time to come up with the right, non-leading, questions.
    This is a valid concern - it will be changed.

    (Original post by Wellzi)
    I am very skeptical. How is this necessary?
    Seems to be pretty clearly explained in the policy explanation in the OP and above, but very shortly: at the moment juries have too much power to ignore/misunderstand the law which can result in miscarriages of justice.
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    I definitely like the look of this bill. I've always thought juries are a bit of an outdated idea, and, as has been said by my honourable friend, this is a very good compromise.
 
 
 
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