Thursday, 18 June 2009

Twelve Frightened Men

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a criminal trial can take place in front of a judge without a jury for the first time in England and Wales.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made legal history by agreeing to allow the trial to be heard by a judge alone.
The case concerns four men accused of an armed robbery at Heathrow Airport in February 2004. This will be the fourth trial concerning the alleged crime.
The judge made the ruling following concerns of alleged jury "tampering".

This is momentous news, which will not, I suspect, get the coverage it deserves - all the evidence is that the British have become ignorant and apathetic about the Laws of England, most of which sprout forth from Brussels, and all of which seem to be subject to the interpretation of the European Courts of this and that.

My attitude is that if the guilty bastards (oops), or their friends and families, have abused the ancient jury system three times already, they can hardly complain with the decision of Judge Judge. But I wonder if this sets a dangerous precedent for the future, and I wonder if, when they are found guilty, this lot will not have a fairly straightforward case to take to the European Court of Human Rights.


Philipa said...

I think this is a thoroughly dangerous precedent.

Ok this explanation is from an American dictionary which seeks to describe their writ of Habeas Corpus but still, it shows the principle:

"The habeas corpus concept was first expressed in the Magna Charta, a constitutional document forced on King John by English landowners at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. Among the liberties declared in the Magna Charta was that "No free man shall be seized, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or injured in any way, nor will we enter on him or send against him except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land." This principle evolved to mean that no person should be deprived of freedom without Due Process of Law. The writ of habeas corpus was first used by the common-law courts in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England. These courts, composed of legal professionals, were in competition with feudal courts, which were controlled by local landowners, or "lords." The feudal courts lacked procedural consistency, and on that basis, the common-law courts began to issue writs demanding the release of persons imprisoned by them..

In other words, we fought long and hard to free ourselves from both an overbearing State and authoritarian rule in the person of the King and Lordly rule. No man is above the law and each accused should be tried by his peers.

Notice how, with the publication of MP's expenses today that some information has been witheld by the State. This means that they have contrived the power to be once again above the law. Tax evasion is a crime.

lilith said...

You can see why he's done it, but I agree. I was shocked to hear what kinds of offences are just seen by magistrates. It seems to me that magistrates are in the main utterly ignorant of the law, don't challenge the police, or require the same level of strict adherence to the law as a judge would. Reasonable doubt? Forget it.

For example, at Calfy's trial a policeman stood up and said he was scared because there were lots of demonstrators and very few police. He hadn't seen Calfy, so she hadn't scared him. He thought that possibly there were about 30 plods defending the barriers. A FOI request shows 1700 police were deployed in and around Parliament Square that day. Their own video evidence showed that no one tried to breach the police cordon.

Philipa said...

I hear about a magistrate that's a friend of a friend. He's a musician, suffers from depression and is taking a law degree whilst unemployed and since being appointed a magistrate to acquaint himself with the law so good for him. But he was appointed without it.

Thud said...

Would it be too much to ask that our Police force (service)does its job and stops the tampering?

idle said...

My thoughts entirely, thud.

The first trial should have been a warning to the police; the second trial might have seen the penny drop; the third time, we can only presume they were too busy aggravating motorists or playing golf whilst on sick leave.

Call me Infidel said...

I thought the point of the Human Rights Act was to have the case dealt with in UK courts. The HRA was drafted to bring the UK law in line with the European. Thus any case would only go as far as the House of Lords and not to Europe for a final decision. Did I miss something? I agree though it does set a dangerous precedent. Unfortunately the way things are heading English common law will be an arcane historic item for study at University. Napoleonic justice is the way forward just as Pedro Mandleslime.

Nick Drew said...

jury tampering is one very good reason why, ultimately, society needs recourse to a totally anonymous mailed fist

sad to say, but there it is