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Trial by Jury, Is the Lamp That Shows That Freedom Lives - Assignment Example

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“TRIAL BY JURY…IS THE LAMP that shows that freedom lives” One of the most fundamental rights of a person accused of a criminal offence is the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a jury. The right to a trial by jury is a cherished right in this jurisdiction as it was decreed that a freeman shall not be imprisoned unless by the judgement of his peers1 however this deeply enshrined tradition of “being tried by a jury of one’s peers” is under attack because it is slow and it entails more expense than a trial before the magistrates’ courts…
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Trial by Jury, Is the Lamp That Shows That Freedom Lives
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Download file to see previous pages The task of this paper is to determine whether “the lamp that shows that freedom lives” has lost its glow or is there still a need for jury service? The answers to the questions are in the affirmative. The prevailing government policy is to limit access to trial by jury to the most serious offences or indictable offences such as murder and rape and persons accused of summary offences such as driving offences, drunkenness or disorderly behaviour, common assault and criminal damage where the damage cost is less than ?50003 shall not be entitled to a trial by jury. Cases of this nature shall fall within the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court. On the other hand, the Magistrates or Crown Court has concurrent jurisdiction over offenses such as theft, burglary and assault resulting in actual bodily harm, these are otherwise known as the “tri-able either way” offences. However, before a case is sent to the Crown Court, the Magistrates Court shall first determine if the case is grave enough to warrant an indictment before the Crown. Jury participation is seen to have been gradually dissipated or eroded. Before 1927, a coroner’s inquests is participated by juries to determine if there is sufficient ground to indict the person accused of the crime of killing to stand trial-either for murder or manslaughter. However, jury participation in 1927 was to limited inquest cases and under the Coroners Act 19884, coroner’s jury shall be necessary only when there is reason to suspect a death occurred in prison; in police custody or as a result of police causing injury; which is reportable under separate legislation to a government department or officer or to the Health & Safety Executive; occurring in circumstances prejudicial to public health or safety; and in any other case where it appears to him that there is reason to do so. Under the guise of administration of law and speedy disposition of cases, trial by jury is restricted in minor offences and this is advocated to favour the victims of more serious or heinous crimes. Jury participation was dispensed with under the proposed Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 where the Home Office Secretary is empowered to create special inquests for reasons of national security or when public interest requires it. Although this provision was removed from the Counter-Terrorism Bill, it was included in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Jury trial has likewise been abolished in civil cases except for cases involving libel and false imprisonment as well as in the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004.5 The first argument proffered by the government that trial by jury is a slow process is indeed valid considering that it involves jury selection, interpretation of the law and summation of evidence by the judge and ending with the deliberation of the jury to either acquit or convict however expediency should not sacrifice the right of the accused to be tried by his peers summoned to make an fair and impartial ruling. This is a substantial right which cannot be withdrawn at will by the government because this guarantees that the accused’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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