Trial by jury, time to think again?
In England and Wales the circumstances in which there can be a trial in the Crown Court without a jury are extremely limited [CJA 2003 ss.44-49 and DVCVA 2004 ss.17-20].
In the Cayman Islands, where I am presently working, however, the defendant has the choice of trial by jury or trial by judge alone in the Grand Court [CI Criminal Procedure Code (2010)]. It is estimated that as many as 50% of defendants in this jurisdiction elect a judge only trial.
Fiona Robertson from 2 Hare Court who has been working here for Samson & McGrath since 2012 believes that the defendant’s right to choose provides a fairer system of justice in that jurisdiction: “This is a small island and pre trial publicity is always a particular concern. Moreover, there are certain types of cases where because of prevailing views and sentiments a defendant will always be better off choosing to be tried by judge alone.”
Whilst most practitioners in our country are firmly wedded to the principle of jury trial, there is always something to be learnt from the experiences of others.
Is it time for us to think again?