Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Draconian power to discharge juror and bend trial

JUDGES will be given [draconian] powers to discharge individual jurors without having to abort a trial under reforms passed through state cabinet yesterday.

Jurors will be able to complain to judges or the sheriff about the conduct of other jurors to enable troublemakers to be discharged. [Bullying ???]

Legal counsel will also be given new powers to contest any decision by a judge to discharge a jury in the Criminal Court of Appeal.

The changes are to be introduced in the Jury Act in the next session of Parliament. They are [allegedly] derived from a Law Reform Commission report.

Judges are often called upon to discharge a juror when they are showing bias, have not declared an interest or are misbehaving, but often this causes a trial to be aborted.

The introduction of legislation to allow judges to discharge jurors and [bend] keep a trial going [allegedly] follows two recent cases where a juror's presence at a trial resulted in successful appeals.

In one recent case (Crown v Brown), a conviction was overturned on appeal because a juror had reported for service a day early and was empanelled in breach of the the Jury Act.

In another case (Crown v Petroulias last year), a judge's decision to discharge a juror because he had incurred driving offences led to a successful appeal in the Court of Criminal Appeal because the defence argued that the entire jury should have been discharged.

The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said the proposed changes were the first of a series of reforms to come out of the commission's report on juries.

He said the change to allow jurors to complain about colleagues was important.

"They can complain and the judge can decide whether to discharge the juror," Mr Hatzistergos said.

"It's more to cover "[SMH] [situations]" such as where a particular juror has a conflict of interest they haven't discussed but it becomes apparent during the trial."

The shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, said although the Government's changes appeared "reasonable", in practice jurors often already complained to judges if they had a problem with someone on the jury.

Quote: These laws are draconian and allow the Judge to push the jury around and sway the trial one way or another. Shame on John Hatzistergos, this creep wants to move trials the government's way when it suits the political agenda. This is not a trial by a jury of your peers. This is bullying. And why didn’t the Sydney Morning Herald get a response from civil liberties lawyers? Because they didn’t like it? Or they were too lazy? Or they want it to suit themselves because finding people guilty of crimes is in the corporate interest when it suits them? Shame on the (SMH) Sydney Morning Herald's bad reporting. What about balancing your articles? What did the Greens say? The most outstanding proposition is that the SMH in addition to these changes tried to make their article look convincing by adding to it some notion about juries getting more money etc and saving the doctors and professionals from having to appear, which is totally irrelevant in relation to the above article that is draconian.

[PS) a Google search for this article reveals the real truth i.e. "Did you mean: Power to discharge jury and save trial."]

[PPS) "The New South Wales Law Society says millions of dollars will be saved under new reforms giving judges the power to discharge individual jurors without aborting a trial." But it's not about saving millions it's about a fair trial and justice for all not justice for the state government, corporations or even the Law Society. How many millions does it cost to keep an innocent person in jail? So much for the Law Society's comment. ]


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Lift the veil and show us what the jurors see
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In addition to this story and typical of the right wing corporate media propagandists with one saviour Nicholas Cowdery

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