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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Monday, 14 November 2016
JUDGEMENT BY ONE`S PEERS AFTER BREXIT
Ever since the closure of the loophole over a decade ago allowing mainly middle class professionals to evade jury duty one would have thought that any further changes would have involved the filtering of eligibility to ensure that only those with the capability of following the often labyrinthine and elevated language of the court would be called upon to do this civil duty. One it seems would have been wrong. My thinking initially provided negative reasons for this sudden change. By extending the age criterion mainly retirees would now be available to serve. Such people would not need to be recompensed for loss of earnings; tax payers` money would be saved. There is no doubt that political and social opinions progress to the right for a majority as age progresses to the last decade or two of life. Perhaps having a reactionary minded pensioner on a jury would persuade younger members to convict more defendants especially in crimes of a violent or sexual nature. What ever the weasel minded bright sparks at the MOJ had in mind it was certainly not for the best interests of those now available to be corralled into service. Perhaps it is a panic measure to placate those lobbyists eg Help the Aged who are all fired up with the current discussions on the removal of the so called three way lock on pensions. With age related disability in the over 70s it does not require a crystal ball to predict that much time and effort will be expended by MOJ beaurocracy in response to those called who will be unable for myriad reasons to serve on a jury. I find it very difficult to explain this decision in a positive light except perhaps it has finally dawned on the aforesaid weasels that far too many jurors are just unable to fulfil the requirements in practice owing to having a barely acceptable grasp of ordinary spoken English. Of course there are no hard facts as far as I am aware in the public domain on this topic.
When Brexit finally begins to be implemented a priority for the MOJ should be to restrict jury duty to British citizens only. In future if one million Poles and two million other Europeans wish to remain in this country they will be welcome as far as I am concerned but it would be against natural justice for them to sit in judgement on British citizens if they themselves did not wish to become the peers of the defendants. After all isn`t the phrase commonly quoted; judgement by one`s peers.