And let us begin with a series of headlines one might have encountered this week, revealing the press to be filled with ignorant fuckwits…
Independent: First trial to be heard without jury approved
What, what? Shocking headline news story! First non-jury trial ever, horror, awe, Magna Carta! The lamp that shows there freedom lives sputtering! Erosion of “Our” age old liberties!
But… er … its total fiction.
Instead of covering the actually interesting part of this story – that it is the first case in the Crown Court where there will be trial by judge alone under the Criminal Justice Act of 2003, the English press has indulged itself in another one of its occasional bouts of frenetic, onion-squeezing delusion.
Take the dusty pages of the Criminal Statistics England and Wales 2007: Statistic Bulletin published by the Ministry of Justice. I imagine it might come as something of a surprise to the dazed statisticians to realise that the number of juryless trials they were recording in 2007 apparently didn’t happen. Per this 2007 report, 1.78 million offenders were found guilty or cautioned in
However, we can say this, absolutely. Magistrates Courts sit with no jury. Crown Courts do. However, almost 70% of those “dealt with” by the Crown Court will never see the twelve crania of a gathered jury, because they throw in the towel and admit their guilt. Thus, even if we take the 5% figure as a maximum of those potentially triable by jury – the actual number of contested trials resolved by juries will be much lower than that.
The media coverage might be harmless dreamland cuckoo-spotting, did it not instil wholly fictional images of the reality of criminal justice in
In the context of my previous analysis of the Scottish system here and here, and the associated statistical uncertainties, the BBC’s paltry, ill-informed suggestion that “some criminal cases in
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