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Legal bodies call for careful consideration of jury research

10 October 2019

Very careful consideration will need to be given to the findings of the research into Scottish juries before any reforms are decided on, the lawyers' professional bodies have said.

Their comments followed the publication yesterday of the results of the two year project, in which 64 different juries viewed one of two mock trials and returned a verdict, under different combinations of rules from Scotland and elsewhere. (Click here for report.)

The results have been predicted as casting a question over the future of the not proven verdict, though Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has insisted he is keeping an open mind on all reforms pending further discussions and consultations.

John Mulholland, President of the Law Society of Scotland, commented: “This new research gives us some insight into how juries reach their verdict in criminal trials. It may have implications for the Scottish criminal justice system and will be helpful in the development of any future reform. We must consider the issues raised in the research very carefully and in great detail.

“Juries play a crucial role in our criminal justice system and it will be vital for both the legal profession and members of the public to participate fully in the debate about the current system and the research findings published today. It is essential that we have a criminal justice system which is fair to those accused of crime and those who are victims of crime. We must make every effort to continue to minimise the possible risk of miscarriages of justice within our criminal courts.

“We look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government and others in taking these important discussions forward.”

Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said: “This kind of research has never been undertaken before and it has produced some fascinating results which will need to be given careful consideration and very deep thought. All those involved in the work deserve to be commended. Many people will hope the research becomes the impetus for major changes in the way we operate our criminal justice system, but we must have the fullest consultation and hear as many views as possible before coming to any conclusions.”

 

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