Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Death of Trial by Jury

The Guardian is reporting (here) that the first criminal trial without a jury in more than 400 years has gotten underway in England. So much for Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and centuries of common law. On this sad occasion, it's worth recalling what Justice Denning wrote about the institution of trial by jury in the 1965 case of Ward v. James:
"It has been the bulwark of our liberties too long for any of us to seek to alter it. Whenever a man is on trial for serious crime or when in a civil case a man’s honour or integrity is at stake... then trial by jury has no equal."

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