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V854 - Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill (Second Reading) watch

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    V854 - Criminal Law (Court Procedure) Bill (Second Reading), 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. Transitional provisions
    1. A Committee (the Jury Guidance Committee) shall be convened in order to compile guidance on appropriate jury directions in light of this Act.
    2. This Committee will consist of twenty members appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission.
    3. These twenty members will be divided as follows: a) five justices of the Supreme Court or Law Lords, current or past; b) five Lords Justices, current or past; c) five Justices of the Crown Court; d) five criminal law academics.
    4. The Committee will initially be convened for a period of one year. This may be extended by order of the Secretary of State for Justice.
    5. Members of the Committee will receive compensation of £100,000 (one hundred thousand pounds).


    5. 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. Sections 1-3 above will come into effect upon the expiry of the term detailed in section 4(4) above.




    Notes
    Approximate costings:
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    £2.5m - see s4(5). I believe this remuneration is necessary, as the highly skilled members of the Committee will be capable of earning at least similar amounts in their normal employment.


    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.


    Changes for Second Reading
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    Introduced S4 in response to Actaeon's concerns during first reading.
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    Currently, I'm not of an opinion either way on this. I won't vote yet, in order to avoid abstaining (hopefully)
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    (Original post by Andy98)
    Currently, I'm not of an opinion either way on this. I won't vote yet, in order to avoid abstaining (hopefully)
    What are your concerns?
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    I kinda agree that juries don't give the best justice, but I'm worried that this bill gives too much power to the judges, since they would decide the verdict alone. Or am I misreading the bill?
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    What are your concerns?
    It's just that there are problems with the legal system, but I don't think this is the solution - the whole point of the jury is so that it's not just one person saying whether they're guilty or not.

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    I find this "the judge will make the verdict" concerning for risk of abuse. But I can understand the logic. On the fence.

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    (Original post by That Bearded Man)
    I find this "the judge will make the verdict" concerning for risk of abuse. But I can understand the logic. On the fence.

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    My thoughts are much the same

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    I can't believe this is going to pass
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    (Original post by Andy98)
    It's just that there are problems with the legal system, but I don't think this is the solution - the whole point of the jury is so that it's not just one person saying whether they're guilty or not.

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    (Original post by That Bearded Man)
    I find this "the judge will make the verdict" concerning for risk of abuse. But I can understand the logic. On the fence.

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    It cannot be abused. The jury questions given by the judge, and the answers, given by the jury, will be recorded. Counsel for the defendant will know what the verdict should be based on the answers to the questions, as the judge is just applying the law (they don't have discretion). It would be very easy to institute a quick-review procedure.

    (Original post by Wellzi)
    I can't believe this is going to pass
    You said I'd convinced you in the first reading.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    I kinda agree that juries don't give the best justice, but I'm worried that this bill gives too much power to the judges, since they would decide the verdict alone. Or am I misreading the bill?
    See above. Judges are just applying the law to the facts, so they have no discretion. The juries are the arbiters of the facts.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    You said I'd convinced you in the first reading.
    Yes, but now I've properly mulled it over, I realise that I'm completely against the principle.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    It cannot be abused. The jury questions given by the judge, and the answers, given by the jury, will be recorded. Counsel for the defendant will know what the verdict should be based on the answers to the questions, as the judge is just applying the law (they don't have discretion). It would be very easy to institute a quick-review procedure.
    If that's the case, what's the point of even having the jury in the first place?

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    (Original post by Andy98)
    If that's the case, what's the point of even having the jury in the first place?

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    It maintains British principle and tradition if nothing else, but more usefully allows the facts to be analysed by your peers as is the basis of our legal system whilst modernising by leaving the technical, legal side of things to the judge.
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    (Original post by Saoirse:3)
    It maintains British principle and tradition if nothing else, but more usefully allows the facts to be analysed by your peers as is the basis of our legal system whilst modernising by leaving the technical, legal side of things to the judge.
    Right

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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    See above. Judges are just applying the law to the facts, so they have no discretion. The juries are the arbiters of the facts.
    this still gives the judge full power of decision, this bill effectively removes the jury.
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    (Original post by JeremyOU)
    this still gives the judge full power of decision, this bill effectively removes the jury.
    ...it limits the power of the jury to exceed their mandate. Juries have never been supposed to be able to say 'we don't like this guy so we're going to ignore the law and say that he's guilty' - it keeps the jury as the decider of the facts. If the judge misapplies the law, an appeal process would be quick and easy under this Bill in most cases. It gives the judge the 'full power of decision' only in a way which is extremely banal and not really worth considering, since practically speaking judges are restricted to making the correct verdict given the facts as found by the jury.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    ...it limits the power of the jury to exceed their mandate. Juries have never been supposed to be able to say 'we don't like this guy so we're going to ignore the law and say that he's guilty' - it keeps the jury as the decider of the facts. If the judge misapplies the law, an appeal process would be quick and easy under this Bill in most cases. It gives the judge the 'full power of decision' only in a way which is extremely banal and not really worth considering, since practically speaking judges are restricted to making the correct verdict given the facts as found by the jury.
    The jury has only one mandate: did a person do what the prosecution is charging said person to have done. (Duh)
    The jury is not required or expected to know anything about the law or to apply it.
    The jury has to decide on one fact.

    Your bill is unbelievably stupid, but would make sense if you were in France, where it works much like you seem to think it does. (A civil law legal system, rather than a common law legal system)
    Your bill is based on the incorrect assumption that there is more than one fact being decided on, and there isn't.
    i could explain how it actually works but I can't be asked because i doubt you would even vaguely understand anyway.
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    (Original post by JeremyOU)
    The jury has only one mandate: did a person do what the prosecution is charging said person to have done. (Duh)
    The jury is not required or expected to know anything about the law or to apply it.
    The jury has to decide on one fact.

    Your bill is unbelievably stupid, but would make sense if you were in France, where it works much like you seem to think it does. (A civil law legal system, rather than a common law legal system)
    Your bill is based on the incorrect assumption that there is more than one fact being decided on, and there isn't.
    i could explain how it actually works but I can't be asked because i doubt you would even vaguely understand anyway.
    Try me, I have a law degree.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Try me, I have a law degree.
    (if I knew you were a lawyer too)
    We have an adversarial system, where two opposing party each present a case, making clear the facts, evidence to support the facts, and witness testimony.
    The judge will clearly explain any points of law that have relevance while the parties are presenting their cases, if the parties have not done so themselves.
    The jury will then decide which party has presented the correct argument, not based on anything but what has been presented to them.
    The judge will then apply the law and pass sentence.

    This is a perfectly good system, and I see no reason to change it.
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    (Original post by JeremyOU)
    (if I knew you were a lawyer too)
    We have an adversarial system, where two opposing party each present a case, making clear the facts, evidence to support the facts, and witness testimony.
    The judge will clearly explain any points of law that have relevance while the parties are presenting their cases, if the parties have not done so themselves.
    The jury will then decide which party has presented the correct argument, not based on anything but what has been presented to them.
    The judge will then apply the law and pass sentence.

    This is a perfectly good system, and I see no reason to change it.
    The bolded is a change which would be made in the proposed system. At the moment, juries have the law explained to them and are asked to make a conclusion as to guilt based on the law as explained. This leads to situations where juries misunderstand, mishear, or, shockingly, even willfully ignore the guidance on the law set out by the judge (due to the private nature of jury deliberation one cannot be certain about the true extent of this but plenty of anecdotal evidence is available) - this is the mischief which this Bill seeks to cure.

    The jury's competence to find facts is not limited by this Bill; nor is the judge's extended. All this does is take the responsibility for interpreting and understanding the law out of the hands of laymen and into those of qualified professionals.
 
 
 
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