June 20th, 2009

Guilty as Charged

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I’ve never done jury service. Up until recently there would have been no chance of me ever doing so, not while I was a police officer anyway. Police officers were on a list of occupations not eligible for jury service, the thinking went along the lines that a cop couldn’t be expected to remain impartial & come to a verdict based on the evidence.

I have to confess, had I been called I may well have thought exactly that; I like to think that there is a pretty high chance that the person put before the court was the one who did it.

The rules changed. I’m guessing because so many people get themselves out of jury service that they have been struggling to get 12 good men & true (& women).

A murderer recently tried to get off on the basis that he did not get a fair trial because there was a serving police officer on the jury.

Peter Armstrong was jailed for life in January 2008 after stabbing his drinking partner. His barrister told the Court of Appeal that the trial may have been prejudiced because of the officer’s presence on the jury. The lawyer said that because the officer served in the same force he may have felt under pressure to convict.

Lord Justice Moore-Birch said that the mere fact that one of the jurors was a serving police officer was “not sufficient in itself to raise the risk of bias” & doubt over the juror’s impartiality were “little more than speculation“.

There must be some other factor to raise that risk, this was not a case in which police evidence was hotly contested,” he said.

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