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Right to trial by jury.

Comment 2nd July 2010

Many look up to the justice system in the USA with its chain gangs, hard labour and death sentence but they also have an absolute right to trial by jury which they can evoke for any arrestable offence including public intoxication. This system works perfectly well, mainly because most don't demand a jury trial for minor offenses such as public intoxication.

The point of jury trial is to keep the power to sentence away from the state and with the people, which is a fundimental protection from a police state.

Many people do not know but juries have the right to disregard the law, it's called jury nullification in the USA, if they see fit. Lawyers however are sworn to uphold the law so are not allowed to inform the jury of this even if they believe their client warrants it; this would be where the client is technically guilty of a crime but the public may sympathise sufficiently to actually let him off.

In this country we have no right to trial by jury and so we have such things as fixed penalty notices.

Juries may not be perfect, they may not understand the law, but that is the whole point, they keep the human eliment in the legal system. If a lawer cannot explain in simple terms why a persons' liberty should be removed then it has to be questioned.

 

Why does this matter?

There is no right to trial by jury in this country and as a result successive Governments look at ways of removing that right, preferring instead to refer to magistrate courts where lay people enforce what they are told the law is.

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