Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.





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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

NOT SURE OF NOT PROVED



Those associated with the Scottish legal system have generally been proud of its efficiency and fair treatment of defendants.  Indeed along with education it was cited often during the referendum campaign as symbolic of the country`s status as  an independent  nation within the United Kingdom.  With the recent amalgamation of the separate police forces in Scotland into a unified command;  Police Scotland, there has now been established an expert group to examine the ramifications of abolishing “corroboration” in the courts.  The most widespread example is that two witnesses not excluding police officers  are required to give evidence against a defendant whereas a single witness is sufficient in the other parts of the U.K.  There are also going to be questions as to changing the number of jurors and the majority needed to convict.  All these proposals are, according to the arguments,  to safeguard the innocent until proved guilty concept of our justice system.  It seems strange therefore  if  the Herald report is comprehensive  that that most unusual of all processes in Scots law, the verdict of “not proven” ,    is not up for consideration.  On the surface that verdict alone seems calculated to ensure that any shadow of doubt in the prosecution case  is firmly placed in favour of the defendant.

1 comment:

  1. Not proven wasn't strictly in the terms of reference for the consultation, but the group have actually included it in the consultation document anyway!

    Just another point on the current situation "Two witnesses" is not strictly speaking true. Evidence from two sources are required but they needn't both be witnesses. Each critical part of the case must be corroborated.

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