Jury

A flawed legal system

Contempt of Court thoughts

Kerre McIvor discusses the case of the juror who was thrown in the clink for 10 days

You can’t get much tougher than biffing a bloke into prison for 10 days.

Brookbanks says a 10-day sentence is designed to send a message from the judge to the community – in this case, that jury service is an important obligation and that the court cannot, and will not, be trifled with.

All well and good, but people’s reluctance to turn up for jury service goes beyond the considerable cost in terms of time and money.  Read more »

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Kim Dotcom won’t like this study one little bit

Kim DotCon is not going to be very happy about this finding…perhaps it is the reason why he is studiously trying to avoid court.

Researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity have found that a defendant’s body weight and gender impact jurors’ perceptions of guilt and responsibility.

Their research has been published online in the International Journal of Obesity.

The online study involved 471 adult participants. They were presented with a mock court case, including images of alleged defendants. Participants viewed one of four defendant images: a lean male, a lean female, an obese male, and an obese female. After viewing each of these, participants were asked to rate how guilty they thought the defendant was.  Read more »

No thanks, keep jury trials

A judge has decided to weigh into public policy and lecture the government on jury trials. Just the other day these precious petals were getting upset because people and the government were subjecting them to scrutiny and they didn’t like it.

Now however this judge thinks that we should get rid of jury trials:

A judge has questioned whether lengthy drug trials should be heard by jurors after one expected to take eight weeks was aborted.

The call from Judge David Wilson, QC, came as the methamphetamine trial involving three accused was dropped as it entered its third week in the Auckland District Court.

In a ruling made on Thursday and issued yesterday, Judge Wilson said authorities should examine the possibility of having judges decide on complex drugs cases without a jury because of the investment in court time and lawyers.

In the aborted trial, two jurors had already been excused when a third produced a medical certificate saying they would not be able to sit on the jury for two weeks.

This took the jury panel to below the minimum of 10 needed.

The three accused could have chosen to have their case heard by the nine remaining jurors, but lawyers for the trio exercised their right to have the trial aborted.

In his ruling, the judge said jury commitments in long methamphetamine trials were “extensive”, as they often relied on a large amount of detailed electronic surveillance which had to be played to the court.

“I noticed particularly yesterday, where there were no technical or other interruptions to the evidence, that a whole day of almost unbroken reading of text messages and playing of intercepted telephone calls was a very taxing experience for the jury and it was with deep relief that they were released at 4.30pm,” he said.

Authorities should review the need for jurors and look at the possibility of having methamphetamine trials heard by a judge alone because the costs of trials “can only be considerable”.

I have two words for you in opposition to this proposal…”Simon France”.

The last thing we need is activist judges holding court with no protections against their outrages. The jury system may not be perfect but at least we don’t run the risk of liberal judges queering the pitch against citizens.

 

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Jury Duty for the unemployed

Andrew Sullivan

Jury duty is a hassle. Most people I know avoid it like cancer, dreaming up all sorts of excuses. It may be better if we could get the unemployed, particularly white collar workers currently unemployed to do jury duty for us.

It is not a silly idea you know, Fred Clark thinks giving the unemployed preference for jury duty has some merit.

First, it reduces the frequency of jury duty for those with employment. They’d still be called to serve, but less often, thus reducing the total level of inconvenience and hassle due to missing days at work. And it would channel more of those tiny, inadequate stipends to unemployed people who could use even such trivial sums.

His vision doesn’t end there:

I want to repurpose all that mostly wasted time prospective jurors now spend sitting around and waiting and put it to use trying to find jobs for jurors. The idea is to turn jury duty into an ongoing job fair, to turn the waiting room for prospective jurors into an employment office. Job-seekers called for jury duty wouldn’t just bring a good book to read, they’d bring their résumés. The time now mostly squandered sitting around would instead be used to try to connect the unemployed with potential employers.

Now that is some thinking going on there. Discuss.

Pontificating ponces

What a bunch of out of date irrelevant tossers.

The Law Society has welcomed a decision that requires barristers in District Court jury trials to don gowns in a bid to bring more formality to proceedings.

The decision, announced today, was made by Chief District Court Judge Russell Johnson, and will take effect on February 28.

All counsel in a jury trial in a district court in New Zealand will be required to wear a barrister’s gown appropriate to their rank.

“The Law Society is pleased. The profession is not unanimously behind this decision but a significant majority thought it a good step to ensure appropriate formality,” Law Society president Jonathon Temm told NZPA.

District court barristers had never worn gowns and this was an extension of the rule which already applied to High Courts, Mr Temm said.

Chief Judge Johnson said this would highlight to all court users the dignity required and the serious nature of matters now being conducted in the District Court.

Barristers would only need to wear gowns in jury trials which made up about 1500 of approximately 200,000 trials a year, a Law Society spokesman said.

Does this mean judges will be wearing corsets and suspenders next?