Opening up the jury room?

Secrets of the jury room may soon be open to investigation by Frances Gibb in The Times discusses the secrecy of a jury room and a forthcoming consultation which will examine whether the ban on research into the discussions undertaken by jurors is desirable.

At issue is whether the 1981 Contempt of Court Act may conflict with the Human Rights Act 1998 by precluding a fair trial in some circumstances.

"Edward Fitzgerald, QC, a human rights and criminal law barrister, has said: “An absolute ban on jury room disclosure cannot be right, and is hard to justify in the light of article 6 (the right to a fair trial).” John Spencer, a Professor of Law at Cambridge University, says that the ban is “almost certainly incompatible” with the Human Rights Act. The refusal of the legal system to investigate a serious allegation of bias or misconduct is objectionable, he says.

To date, courts have ruled against revealing jury room secrets, arguing that this would discourage jurors from being candid. Ms Bhagwandeen said that only in one case — where four jurors used a ouija board to determine guilt — did the courts allow an investigation. But that was because the incident took place in a hotel, not in the jury room."

I don't know, because I haven't checked, but I imagine that this is equally pertinent to Scotland as it is elsewhere in the U.K.

Posted by Paul at October 7, 2003 01:08 AM |
Visitor Feedback