Chris Huhne changes plea to guilty(373 Posts)
BBC link here. I reckon that's the end of his political career then.
I was a juror and we asked what beyond all reasonable doubt actually meant.
As we had two people of questionable character, one said the other was guilty, the accused said they were innocent.
We had to decide beyond all readonable doubt that the accused was guilty, we couldn't as it was one liars word against another liars word.
We'd have been guessing.
I suppose it could be changed to 'make an educated guess'
Yes we all know they took vows but a jury is not supposed to discuss things 'we all know' just things that are mentioned in the court room. Anything else they know has to be disregarded.
Sorry this is just wrong Tiggy.
And so is the judge.
The jury are entirely entitled to use their common sense and their common knowledge of the world. They are absolutely not constrained to follow unerringly the evidence and arguments from the prosecution, the defence, or for that matter the judge.
Where the judge has fucked up here is in not recognising that it is common knowledge that VP and CH will have taken marriage vows, and that those vows are to love, honour, and obey.
Very few make those vows to love honour and obey in the UK today, but it was certainly not strange that a jury (perhaps some of whom might have been from marriages with those vows who might even obey their husband in the context of this very old fashioned defence of marital coercion) might ask that question.
I would imagine if the Huhnes had that kind of ethos in the relationship her defence would have gone on and on about it. It doubt it was Greek orthodox ceremony as it was her second marriage.
Juries are allowed to infer.
If say 90% of Christian weddings included a vow to obey, a jury would be able to infer there was a 90% likelihood that VP and CH took those vows.(In the absence of any trial evidence)
The end result in any case is that the law trumps wedding vows, and a vow to obey could not support the defence of marital coercion.
A history of obedient (have an abortion and then she did. Have a second one and she nearly did) though is relevant. I presume it would be easier to prove marital coercion if you were say a wife in the Brethern religion where you don't go out without someone else, only do what your husband says etc etc or a Saudi wife in London.
The questions don't show they were all wrong. They just show one of them wanted to ask that question and perhaps the others let it forward as they were sick to death of that one juror going on and on about a point they all knew was not relevant and the only way to shut her up was to get it on the list of questions.
Tiggy we are talking at cross-purposes.
I am simply indicating that juries are allowed to use common knowledge in their consideration of the verdict, and that marriage vows are a matter covered by common knowledge.
Whilst I am happy to defer your clearly superior knowledge of marriage vows that does not affect the principle that juries can, do, and should infer from evidence and common knowledge.
Also this was in London where you may well have heaps of Muslim, African Indian etc women and many others who see obeying a husband as very much their tradition and part of marriage. London is not a majority white city by any means.
I actually did not realise when on jury service that any question we asked the clerk would result in us all being called back into court to hear the judge's answer - and I wasn't the only one in the room who didn't know that. I can also imagine if there were a couple of questions going out anyway, one or two individual jurors may have simply added their quest
...questions to a pool that everyone was asking.
But tiggy, the Greek Orthodox church is a Christian church.
Anyway, the whole religion thing is clearly a red herring. I'm glad people here are taking the view that the jury wasn't being stupid, and that some of their questions are quite sensible. And in cases where they weren't sensible, I agree with Xenia that it might simply be the case that one juror got hold of the wrong end of the stick, so the jury asked for clarification to shut him/her up.
I think the jury were understandably confused. Neither the prosecution nor the defence presented a convincing case. Normally when that happens, the jury has to find for the defendant, but I can see that in this case - where the defendant had already admitted that she'd taken the points for her husband - they must have thought that that didn't seem quite right. Asking what "reasonable doubt" means is an entirely sensible thing to do in that case. The judge may say that the words are common English words but I'm sure philosophers could argue for hours about exactly what we mean by "reasonable".
There's a horrible article in the Mail (where else) by Melanie Phillips (who else) attacking the "stupidity and ignorance" of the jury. It seems particularly unfair as they're unable to answer back.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1967, a jury may draw reasonable inferences from all the evidence
Tiggytape is correct to state that common knowledge doesn't apply to guessing someone's marriage vows and that it is about common sense not guessing facts.
Ms Pryce does not say that any such reasoning (ie that she promised to obey her husband in her wedding vows and he had ordered her to do something and she felt she had to obey.....) formed any part of her decision to do what she did.
Therefore the judge was correct in his direction to the jury.
tiggy I suspect that was so. You are bound to get one or two jurors at times who will not let go of some point everyone else thinks is wrong.
Simon Hoggart had a diary piece in today's Guardian, talking about one of the times he served on a jury:
"In another case, actual bodily harm, the defendant had looked through the windows of a pub to see if his victim his ex-girlfriend's new bloke was in there. The barristers spent most of a day arguing to the judge in private about, we later learned, whether the fact that he had been banned from the pub for violent behaviour was admissible. The defence won, but it did them no good: our jurors just said: "Well, he must have been barred for being violent, or else he'd have gone inside."
Two things interesting about that. One is that they used information they didn't have (but guessed) to help them make their decision. This is something we're all supposed to frown upon. The second is that the jury was absolutely right to do so. I think it's very frustrating that juries have relevant information withheld from them on the basis that it might be "prejudicial". How are the jury supposed to come to a sensible conclusion if they haven't been told something that is highly pertinent to the case?
"Well, he must have been barred for being violent, or else he'd have gone inside."
See, this is really curious and you could say either:
A. They guessed. WRONG
B They inferred from all the available evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, the secondary conclusion[or they at least honestly believed the inference was logically determined from the evidence] CORRECT
The trouble is with this situation is that it is in practical terms impossible for the judge to direct the jury:
You should not speculate whether X was or was not banned from the King's Arms
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