Monday, January 29, 2007

The Jury's out

Well, as young Master Osler observes, they've gone and done it - they've abolished trial by jury. I do not exagerate.

Here's how it will go - having established a precedent by abolishing it for fraud trials, they'll wait awhile, and then when, say, a tricksey rape or murder case comes to court, or where a jury passes what ministers perceive to be a perverse verdict, they'll turn around and say:
Well, we can conduct trials like we do fraud cases. We've accepted the principle of juryless trials; and we can see they work, we're just extending a working model.
And there we have it, creeping abolition. All from the change management manual. Convince people the current system doesn't work (by breaking it if need be) and then implement the one you want.

This is already underway with ASBO's with their extension to organised crime - after all, ASBO's work don't they, we've already accepted the principle? Exactly.

Couple this with on-the-spot fines (a one way ticket to corruption is you ask me - "Would you like to pay an £80 fine, risk going to court and paying a £180 fine, or pay me £20 to forget all about it?" Sayeth the Rozzer).

The fact is, juries should be the jewel in the crown of the left - we don't like judges, can't trust the police, but can trust the honest decency of common folk to come to the right verdict. Any left worth its name should defend juries, and indeed make their greater use a central plank is winning the law'n'order vote - if it's confidence in the criminal justcie system people lack, real experience of jury service would do more to modify that than a million technocratic reforms.

The travaills of the Home Office tell the truth about technocracy and bureaucratic responses to social questions - incompetence and inefficiency will always out as people who know the truth of totalitarian states would tell you - they were crap, they could efficiently eprsecute someone but their dream of total control was beyond their reach.

Still, clear red water is available - a sensible left would build it's law'n'order strategy around juries, around getting more common folk ionto a justice system built on sound values.

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Anonymous übermädchen said...

We've seen it all before in other countries. The thin end of the wedge! Before we know where we are we shall have the full apparatus of totalitarianism!


1:32 PM  
Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

I certainly agree Bill. To be fair most of the left have a paper opposition to these measures. Turning that into an active opposition is a tough call when so many issues already command much of its energy.

4:29 PM  

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