Friday, March 14, 2008

How Odd

I read most of the media headlines published each day. there are a few stories every now and then that stick out. An article from the Times caught my attention today. Apparently a jury acquitted a man of murder and then some of the members of jury waited to see the Defendant to hug him!?
A pensioner who was accused of killing his partner and then confessing to his pet cats was cleared of murder and manslaughter today – and then hugged by members of the jury before leaving the courtroom.

Mr Henton, 73, from Neath, South Wales, was accused of brutally bludgeoning his long-term partner, Joyce Sutton, to death after "snapping" in January 2006.

There were gasps from the public gallery at Swansea Crown Court as the forewoman of the jury declared Mr Henton not guilty of either murder or the alternative charge of manslaughter.

I have not heard of jury members hugging a defendant before. I have had a few hugs before when I have managed to get Client's acquitted of matters.

The jury system seems to be breaking down as jurors are either speaking out about decisions they did not agree with, or they seek some kind of fame from the trial that they were involved in. As an advocate who regularly appears at the Magistrates Courts I am used to the bench making decisions and then giving reasons for those decisions. A lot of the time the reasoning for the decision appears to be based on a 'stock' answer - but nonetheless they give a reason for their decision. Juries do not give reasons for their decisions, and in fact, that is the great mystery of the jury system. The deliberations in the jury room are matters that are not subject to any scrutiny, because the deliberations are confidential.

What will a jury member do next? Perhaps they can disagree with the majority verdict given and assist a defendant appeal against conviction based on their knowledge of the reasoning behind the decision?

19 comments:

Ewan said...

Surely if they revealed anything substantial about the jury deliberations they'd be done for contempt of court pretty quickly?

Gavin said...

Agreed, s. 8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 covers the situation of a person disclosing matters relating to jury deliberations. But it still happens.

Western Justice said...

that is strange. jurors are usually a bit more reclusive than that!!

Anonymous said...

You'll love this then: http://www.swarb.co.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=8437

Gavin said...

Very good.

Gavin said...

Spooky. The Times has now run a further article on the exact same theme I was talking about...

Why juries just can’t keep quiet

Agent Douane said...

I blame too much Judge Judy. She rocks.

Perakath said...

Screw the jury system. Like we in your former colony have!

Barry said...

The deterioration of the jury system clearly reflects the overall decay in the justice and policing systems in the UK. A trend that has some way to go yet before trial by jury is dispensed with, as it will be at some future point. Its all rather depressing!

Anonymous said...

Thats an interesting post. I can't see why someone from the jury would hug the person on trial! I had to use lawyer to defend my case in court and used Steel and Shamash - Criminal Solicitor London

Anwalt für Erbrecht said...

This is really bad work. They must have taken a right decision in this regard. But they released him and even hug him. This is not a good tradition and not justice at all.

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Ben said...

Is there any really good reason why jurors are not allowed to discuss the case afterwards?

It's certainly not the case in other common-law jurisdictions, many (all?) states in the USA for example.

Maybe it would be better if these things could be discussed.

Ben

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Anonymous said...

I was a Forewoman on a juror on a month long murder tria and I have to say the whole process left a lot to be desired. I still not sure if I am allowed to speak about it - I want to go to the defence lawyers and tell them everything that went on - but I'm not sure if I'm allowed. Anyhow being a juror is NO PICNIC. If they want to hug after all that stress - it's their right.

Notary Public Blackburn said...

I like the Judge Judy comment

Notary Public Harrow said...

good blog post

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