And do they have an absolute right to acquit?
Many thanks, Joshua: I have also read your column in the Gazette and listened to this week’s Law in Action.
Yes, in extreme circumstances where - collectively- twelve citizens with their feet on the ground perceive a moral wrong and injustice in a politically inspired prosecution, they should continue to have the entitlement to acquit notwithstanding where the clinical evidence may take them. And yes, the obvious example of this is Ponting. A judge’s direction to convict can of course be more problematic.
As to RASSO cases, I personally believe that the mischief threatens to go far further -even- than a desire to remove juries for such cases. It would also be unfair and an insult to jurors to start from the premise that those poor dears presented with sensitive and conflicting evidence might be out of their intellectual depth.
And that to my mind points to the hidden agenda for one government after another: they distrust and dislike the independence of mind jurors tend to demonstrate in refusing to stamp their card for them. Another example of more recent times was the Colston case, where the administration as then constituted had been angling for a case and examples to be made of the “woke.” Forget for the moment the evidential niceties of that case. (In any event I continue to maintain that there had been merit in strands of that defence.)
But what concerns me is that, because of such examples of executive embarrassment, what especially this regime is angling for is the complete removal of “the lamp that shows that freedom lives”( Lord Devlin ,of course). Also, jury trials are SO expensive.
Let us start- say the would-be manipulators- with chipping away at the LOWER end ( for example with “minor” shoplifting); then we turn to fraud cases (too complicated to trust juries with). Then we can point to other complex, sensitive cases and those to do with national security where after all they can be likened to fraud trials in their complexity.
After that, we get someone high profile - OF COURSE not you, Joshua, - to undertake some species of light touch “research” to ink in the desired conclusion that juryless trials have resulted in just as fair and just an outcome- and at a fraction of the cost! And so- then continues the argument- the cases still with jury trials would be vulnerable as untenable to retain.
Am I being paranoid?