LETTER: In defence of the jury system

The jury system is many things, but inefficient is not one of them.

Re: “Eight problems with the jury system”

Mr. Abrahams brought forth eight items that he views as “problems” with our jury system in Canada, which are not really problems but statements of personal belief. While he made many errors, I will only touch on the more egregious.

Despite his protestations that the jury system is inefficient, he offers no alternative other than a government appointed judge. The jury system was created to prevent abuses from government interference and to ensure that it was in fact, the people, and not the government, that decided the fates of their fellow citizens.

He also seems to believe that because a person knows very little about law, they cannot make a decision in a matter brought before the court. And in fact, this point has been argued many times, and never proven that jurors are less capable of understanding facts than judges who have a legal background.

He makes the absurd statement that a jury could be fooled by police and the Crown conspiring and sending an innocent person to jail, yet seems oblivious to the idea that a judge could fall for the same conspiracy. Which would be easier to fool one person or 12?

Mr. Abrahams would also like us to believe that judges are solely responsible for what evidence is brought before the jury. This is only partially true. The Supreme Court elevated the trial judge’s exclusionary discretion to constitutional stature, pronouncing that Section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom’s guarantee of a fair trial for an accused encompasses within it an exclusionary discretion for a trial judge to exclude technically admissible Crown evidence whenever this is required to preserve a fair trial.

He also asked why subject 12 innocent people to listen to a defence attorney who really believes his client to be guilty, and allow a guilty person to go free after committing a horrendous crime? My answer is the one innocent person who goes free because of a jury trial. While compiling his highly influential set of books on English common law, William Blackstone expressed the famous ratio this way: All presumptive evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously, for the law holds it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent party suffer.

The jury system serves a number of significant purposes. First, the jury serves as an outstanding fact finder because of its variety of experiences and because it works co-operatively. Second, the jury acts as the “conscience of the community,” owing to its representative quality, bringing to bear the broader community’s sense of justice and fairness. Third, the jury acts as the citizen’s final fortification against government’s potentially oppressive laws and potentially oppressive enforcement of the law.

The jury system is many things, but inefficient is not one of them.

Robert Leggett, Nelson

 

Just Posted

Smoky skies force flight cancellations

Air quality in West Kootenay also a health concern

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Columbia River Treaty negotiators met in Nelson this week

Next session is in Portland in October

UPDATE: Fire forces closures and delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

Motorists should detour using Kootenay Lake ferry

Evacuation alert issued for City of Kimberley

Three hours after an evacuation order was issued for the St. Mary Valley, an evacuation alert was issued for the nearby community of Kimberley.

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

RCMP nab prolific car thief after month-long, B.C.-wide search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Most Read