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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  1. Fee says:

    When I did jury service we would have welcomed a police officer – he (or she) would probably have had a better instinct for the evidence than the rest of us. It was one of those “he said, she said” type cases which came down to who was the most convincing witness. Or the best liar. One woman wanted to find the accused guilty on the grounds that “His eyes are too close together”. He was convicted in the end, but mainly because he’d changed his story twice (and his eyes were too close together!).

    June 21st, 2009 at 07:49

  2. Same old Sh.. says:

    I for one am glad they let police on jury’s now.

    When I did jury duty, before i was in the job, i was on a death in custody case police officers were on the stand i was 18 one woman who was in her 40s stated before the opening arguments “let me send one of them down” i told her it was too important to not listen to the evidence, she told me “grow up it’s not life and death”.

    I had to point out to her that for the men on the stand and their family’s it was life.

    12 good men and true my arse

    June 21st, 2009 at 10:07

  3. PC Plastic Fuzz aka PCSO Bloggs says:

    Just wanted to drop you a line 200 to let you know I’m off. Take care and be safe!

    June 21st, 2009 at 15:13

  4. benno says:

    plastic fuzz. Be safe mate, enjoyed your blog from the early days, sex change and all!!! free speach my arse…..

    June 21st, 2009 at 17:29

  5. Graham Smith says:

    IIRC, when I served as a special with the Met back in the 1970′s and early 1980′s, the rule was “no jury service whilst serving or for ten years afterwards.”

    This seemed to be on the very sensible basis that you might come across someone (either as a defendant or witness) who you had dealt with.

    June 21st, 2009 at 19:11

  6. MarkUK says:

    I must admit that I’m sad that police officers are now allowed to serve on juries.

    Any police officer (worth the name) is bound to have a prejudice in favour of police evidence. I would hope that they did have, as it’s called “believing in the team” or something similar.

    This makes it a non-random effect – essentially a bias (though probably for good reason). Jury trials work on the principle that the various prejudices balance each other out, so adding in a known bias would make the jury potentially biassed.

    As for there being too few jurors – I’ve never declined a summons as I’ve never been asked – and I’ve been eligible to be a juror for over two thirds of my life.

    Perhaps we should try more “national” cases in the provinces.

    June 21st, 2009 at 21:30

  7. Blueknight says:

    These days the case is examined in detail by CPS at every stage, so it is fairly unlikely that anyone who is genunely innocent gets as far as Court.
    The system could be improved by recruiting ‘professional’ jurors. That way there would be some control over quality, which would stop the eyes too close together -guilty and he has got a nice face -not guilty.
    It might even stop the need for this


    June 21st, 2009 at 23:19

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