Sunday, 15 November 2009
12 good men and true
The news that the 9/11 facilitator will stand trial in a civilian venue is heartening. I assume that he will have all the protection that is due to any accused person but one might suspect would be missing were he to be put before some military tribunal. Justice seen to be done and all that. were found not guilty whilst seemingly innocent people were sent away to break rocks. At the same time as I was thinking about the trial of someone who has already admitted the offence - and more - I was reading some accounts of famous trials held in the early 1900's. There were reports of seemingly wrong decisions being returned by the jury. Accused caught bang to rights "It's a fair cop guv"Advocacy then was allowed a looser rein and many legal eagles would have earned an equally nice life on the stage. I would be unwise to detail any current findings; Mike Mansfield guards his reputation. Safe I think to just say O J Simpson? One can see something of the Jury Effect in what passes for TV entertainment such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. The Inns of Court have an appeal process where a finding is deemed capricious but it seems this is rarely used. So, what would be the reaction if Mr. 9/11 were to be deemed not guilty? A poor performance from the prosecutor alongside a fine defence and a soupçon of 'let's not be beastly to the Muslims' and he might just walk. Lord Forbid. I cannot understand why we just get a crowd of likely level-headed clear thinking guys off the street to make what can be shatteringly life changing decisions. They are unlikely to have knowledge of psychology and only a weak understanding of sociology. Even worse, they may think they know what goes on in the mind of a unbalanced human or one who is quite settled into a life of crime. The aim of the defence has shifted from the old idea that they were there to see their client had all the protection and benefits he was due. Now, their intent is to have the man in the dock walk free. On the other hand, I have heard of "stealth" jurists stating during jury selection that they will be objective with the evidence but have no intention of doing so. Instead, they intentionally get on the jury using deception because they secretly want the accused convicted. The defence has only a limited number of challenges when a jury is being chosen. It then has to make specific protests. What chance of detecting someone who has had a relative killed by a drunk driver being empanelled in a driving under the influence case? It is not just being in the shoes of the accused. There are technical aspects as well. Some fraud cases will take two or more years to investigate and the skills of a specialist forensic accountant. How is that explained and made clear to a group of laymen? The guy who cooked the books will have taken advantage of loop holes - what will the 12 good men and women understand of those? It is not just that justice be seen as done to the accused - society demands it as well. Something needs to be done. The degree of risk that one might lose ones freedom is taken into account by serious criminals. They have to be controlled by knowing that if they do the crime they are going to do the time. Fluky verdicts can bolster their courage. So, maybe it is time we had a corps of jurors. They would be enlisted in accord with conditions much as now. They would be trained in law and given an insight into what makes humans tick. Their own antecedents would be known so that they were not selected to sit on cases sensitive to them. As a personal opinion, I would prefer to appear in front of a tribune properly selected and trained rather than just garnered from names on an electoral roll.