Jury trials

The constitution should enshrine the right to trial by jury for offences which are punished only by a prison sentence.

edited on Apr 13, 2015 by James Doran

Emma McNulty Apr 11, 2015

Dear Contributors,

We are now halfway through the refining phase and would like to remind you of the new features available to every contributor at this stage. Now, you can add, amend or withdraw votes already cast, and this is very important for us to ensure ideas truly reflect your preferences.

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Tom Austin Apr 12, 2015

This proposal is not as 'terrible' as I was led to believe.

I still think it best to have a single 'Jury' proposal, giving its role the central status it so fully deserves.

Rob G Apr 12, 2015

A huge problem with this proposal is that over 90% of criminal cases (in England and Wales) are heard in magistrates' courts, and a good proportion of the charges they hear have imprisonment as a possible sentence.

Even if we were to exclude cases where the defendant pleads Guilty, or where the prosecution agrees that a term of imprisonment would be disproportionate, we're probably talking about at least three or four times as many cases having to go to the Crown Court as now, which will vastly increase the costs, the number of judges needed, and the number of jurors. I don't believe there would be any appetite for that in the country.

Tom Austin Apr 12, 2015

Agreed Rob. Perhaps we can adopt the present cut-off point of the sentencing limitations of lower courts?

Olasunkanmi Ogunneye Apr 12, 2015

Hello robg8, thanks very much for your contribution. As we are now in the refinement phase, instead of discussing the merits of ideas, the purpose of comments is to collectively refine ideas into a concise propositions. Please keep this in mind when contributing. 

Thanks very much, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to message myself or my co-facilitator (emcnulty).

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Rob G Apr 12, 2015

Would it be in order to suggest that the word "only" be inserted in the proposed clause? So that offences which are only punishable by imprisonment have to be tried before a judge and jury; and to adopt Tom Austin's proposal for offences with a range of punishments?

James Doran Apr 13, 2015

@Tom, can you provide the wording for your proposal?

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Tom Austin Apr 13, 2015

Jury: Finders of fact.

N.B. Text within '[]' is not text of the proposal.

[As the basic effect of this Constitution is to set Sovereignty on the people: The people deserve to be placed at the heart of all decision-making processes. It is to be hoped that this new-found significance will act against the current charge that all decisions of a Jury are made only by those without the gumption to evade Jury duty.]

1 - The Jury: [As per IanSmith   https://constitutionuk.com/category/view#/post/100746   ]

i - Selection;  Selection shall be made at random from the list of Citizens (Limits as to age, mental capacity etc. to be set through Legislation.)

ii - Standing;  All Juries to be independent, free from interference and have all their deliberations be strictly confidential save for the purpose of double-blind independent assessment.

iii - Expenses;  All Jury members to be paid a flat day-rate and afforded free meals and accommodation to a maximum set through Legislation. (The State shall show it's appreciation to employers for their making employees freely available in a similar fashion as with the TA)

2 - Trial by Jury:  [As per JamesDoran's Proposal - here.]

i - Criminal Cases;  A Jury shall hear all disputed cases where the accused is likely to face a significant prison sentence, such significance to be set by Statute. Save where an accused freely elects otherwise and as in section 'ii' (a) below.

ii - Civil Cases;  A Jury shall hear cases where a Defendant so wishes, at the discretion of the Judge in line with general Legal principles of Civil-Law conduct laid down by Judicial Authorities and in line with Statute.

(a) - Complex Cases;  A Jury shall hear all cases and be afforded access to independent professional advice throughout.

(b) - National Security;  Provision shall be made through legislation for a Jury, under section 3 'ii' below, to hear all cases.

3 - Protection of the Constitution:  [As per steveg33   https://constitutionuk.com/category/view#/post/81802]

[We have discussed Juries in relation to amending, supporting and protecting the Constitution -I'm all for it.]

i - The Supreme Court;

ii - Special Juries;

 

[Can I leave these last two sub-sections for your particular input, I will welcome your thoughts on all aspects.]

 

James Doran Apr 13, 2015

@Rob, I have added the word "only" as you suggested.

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