a nail in the coffin for jury trials
That inalienable civil liberty — to be judged by ordinary citizens — granted by Magna Carta in 1215 has served ever since as the cornerstone for criminal justice among common law countries.
Yet since 2003 Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, and Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, have ferociously sought to abolish the right to jury trials in serious fraud cases in England.
To save money and guarantee better justice — that is, more certainty of convictions — they propose that the Lord Chief Justice would be empowered to dispense with juries in individual fraud trials.
So far, four times, their attempts have been stymied by Parliament.
Round five of the attempt to abolish juries hearing serious fraud trials is under way. Next Thursday, despite a small revolt by Labour MPs, the Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill will be approved by the House of Commons and pass to the House of Lords. …
To justify their continued zeal, Labour’s law officers have scrabbled to quote “modernisation” and “streamlining” as the justification for their cause. …
Trials of terrorists, drug dealers and health and safety crimes are often longer and more complicated than fraud trials. To be certain of convictions, the Government would eventually hope to also abolish juries in those trials.