Objection!

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Forget “12 Angry Men,” this is a case of “12 clueless oafs.”
I’m talking about the jury in the trial if Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of (now former) MP Chris Huhne who has been accused of taking points on her driving license which Huhne received for speeding.
The trial reached the stage where the jury was excused to discuss the points of the case and to come to a decision.
What the judge instead received was a number of question asking how they should assess the evidence.

“The questions included seeking a definition of reaching a verdict “beyond reasonable doubt” – something the judge had given them in writing.

In another question, the jury asked if one of them could come to a verdict based on reasons that were not presented in court or supported by the evidence. A third question asked about Ms Pryce’s religious convictions, even though this was not a matter in the trial.”

Needless to say the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, was more than surprised calling it an “absolutely fundamental deficits in understanding”.

“Mr Justice Sweeney discharged the panel of eight women and four men following more than 15 hours of deliberations, and a day after they submitted 10 questions that indicated they had not grasped the basics of their task.

In more than 30 years of criminal trials, said Sweeney, he had never come across such circumstances.”

The 1957 version of “12 Angry Men” is one of favourite films. Of course it’s fictional and it’s set in the USA however what I see apart from a great story, a great cast, and great acting, is twelve characters who are clear thinking and logical. In the end. So when I look at the jury in this Vicky Pryce trial it dampens the image of twelve impartial people who can be trusted to make the right decision.
Of course the media are saying that such instances like this are rare and on most occasions the jury can be trusted, however I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign of things to come.
It worries me that twelve people who are picked to pass judgment on a stranger, to make a decision that could impact that stranger’s whole life, can be so inept and clueless in such a way it throws the legal system into disarray.
I’m glad that this is not a common occurrence however I cannot help but wonder if the tide will soon turn. As our younger generation gets older it will be more likely they are picked for such duties. Will we need to dumb down the legal process for those sorts of people?

Sources:

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21516473

http://m.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/20/vicky-pryce-retrial-jury

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