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and unsuspected witnesses to the deed of is wisdom," says a high authority; and even violence, whose testimony frees the case from in the most doubtful case ever subunitted to doubt, and leaves no excuse to the most sen- a jury, we should feel more confidence in the sitive juror for refusing to join in a unani-justice of a unanimous verdict, even if come mous verdict. As regards cases where cir- to after three or four hours' consultation and cumstantial evidence only can be brought contention, than in one which had been more against the prisoner, unanimity in the ver- speedily arrived at after the manner of the dict being required, the prisoner is certain to ballot box. have the benefit of any doubtful point; be- In questions of liberty, we all agree to cause no man of ordinary humanity, where give up a portion to secure personal proteclife and death are at stake, would obstinately tion by the state ; and, surely, it is not persist in regarding such doubtful point un- unreasonable to ask, that in questions of favourably, and press for the conviction of justice we should sink our individual crotthe prisoner. But if even one or more were chets, and by mutual forbearance, aid the so cruelly inclined, we have that confidence state in administering the laws to the best in the spirit and love of fair play of our of its power. countrymen, that we are sure such over- Threlkeld"
says, the present system canbearing and unmerciful conduct would not not be conducive to the attainment of justice, be submitted to, even if a “ dinner" should because it allows men, who have previously be lost by resisting it.
laid in a stock of provisions, the opportunity As to civil cases, these, we believe, are of starving their less fortunate fellows into generally so involved with legal points, that agreement with their own opinions. And he the decisions of juries are limited within a further makes the extraordinary statement very narrow range. But where a question that a prisoner can easily communicate with of fact has to be decided, every argument a juror; that he may bribe him; and that previously urged in favour of unanimity ap- there are jurymen so poor and needy as to plies with equal force. Especially where a be ready and willing to forswear themselves question of damages arises, it seems to us for gold; and that such cases of bribery and that unanimity is absolutely necessary. How perjury have been known, and are undoubted would the advocates of the "vote" arrange facts. the settlernent of such questions? For, on We will not affirm that it is impossible for their principles, every juror might give in a a prisoner to have communication with a different sum as his idea of what would juryman; but we do say, from what we know meet the justice of the case.
of courts of law, and from our own personal But "Morfhaich” says, it is impossible experience as a juror, it is all but impossible but many cases must necessarily arise where for such communication to take place when jurors must join in verdicts in opposition to the jurors are in the box; and as no juror their inward convictions, and adds, “ Even if knows beforehand what case he shall try, it one individual only acquiesces in a verdict to seems to us, that unless a prisoner bribe all which he cannot, in obedience to his con- | the jurors sworn at the assizes, his efforts to science and his oath before God, wholly evade justice would be vain. We do not say agree, it fully shows an imperfection which that all men sworn as jurors are incapable of condemns the whole system.” We entirely being bribed, but we feel certain the great differ from him. For, 1st. We have shown majority of jurors would treat any attempt that very few cases, indeed, occur where to corrupt them with as much scorn and there is any probability of much serious dif- indignation as “Threlkeld” himself. We ference of opinion arising; and when that have a better opinion of human nature, and does occur, instead of militating against the of the class from which jurors are drawn, prisoner, it will rather tend to a favourable than to suppose wholesale bribery possible. view of his case. And, 2ndly. We do not Even the cases mentioned by “ Threlkeld" think that every man has a right to set up do not prove bribery, and the legal authority his own crotchetty views (which are, but too from whom he received the accounts must often, what he means when he talks of con- be looked at rather suspiciously, for the science) as the perfect standard of truth and losing side generally abuses either the judge right. "In the multitude of counsellors or the jury.
But “Tbrelkeld” sees no necessity for fully corrupt; and every Englishman must retaining juries at all. He looks upon them blush that his country's history contains so as an ancient absurdity which ought to be many memorable examples of this crime. swept away.
He is for confiding the power But it appears “Threlkeld” would, by so of the laws entirely to the hands of the doing, revert to the practice of the ancient magistracy, who, he says, would administer Israelites, and because Moses placed able men justice "much more expeditiously and safely" over all Israel, he considers our magistrates than do our cumbrous law courts and corrupt are the able men required by England. and wrong-headed juries.
Those able Israelites, however, did not judge Now, in reply to this we simply say, that all the cases; for in the chapter following it whatever opinion may be held of juries by is said, “ And they judged the people at all their most prejudiced enemies, no one can seasons; the hard cases they brought unto point to any of their decisions, however ab. Moses, but every small matter they judged surd, unreasonable, or unjust, for which a themselves.” Now, do hard cases never occur dozen quite as bad may not be counted that amongst us; and if so, who is to judge them? have issued from the magisterial bench. Again, if the administration of the law reWe acknowledge that many, very many, able, quired by the Israelites is applicable to Engjudicious, and worthy magistrates do honour land in the nineteenth century, the Israelitish to the bench and to the country. But, we code of punishments for crime must be so ask, is not the country continually being too. But will “ Threlkeld” maintain that amused by the strange and absurd vagaries the punishment of death in England should of some of our magistrates? Have we not apply to such cases as those described in read very lately, in the columns of the Times, Exod. xxi. 15, 16, 17, and 19; or that our law some precious revelations of their proceed should take the revenge commanded in verses ings, not only in the agricultural districts, 24 and 25 of the same chapter? We feel but even so near the metropolis as Windsor? sure he will not. Are they not notorious for pride, prejudice, Having replied to the principal arguments and party spirit; bullying and punishing the and objections of our respected opponents, poor where they flatter and favour the rich we think we may safely leave the question and powerful? Talk of substituting the de- to the consideration of the impartial reader. cisions of magistrates for trial by jury! As We believe no valid reason has been offered well go back to the times of the Star Cham- for departing from the practice so long and ber and the infamous Jeffries; for it were far successfully followed in this country. The better to have one violent and overbearing objections to “unanimity,” when fairly exjudge like Jeffries than a thousand scattered amined, are trivial, and the advantages to be all over the country.
derived from change are so slight and proIf bribery is now prevalent, or even possi- blematical, that we believe few lovers of their ble, such a change as “ Threlkeld” wishes country would venture on any change in the for would inevitably make it grow into rank present jury system, even though arguments luxuriance. We have never heard of any had been offered stronger than any yet subauthentic case of jurymen being bribed, but mitted to our notice. it is well known that judges have been fear- Leeds.
BETA. NEGATIVE REPLY. My opening article on this question has our reverence for this “best preservation of been well seconded by the able essay of English liberty.” Now we, as heartily as " Threlkeld.” I am happy to see that we either of them, concur in their eulogiums of both rest our main arguments on facts, the principle of the jury system, and should “stubborn facts”—which are, by him, sup- be as unwilling to see its privileges conported by lucid arguments and weighty au- tracted, or its rights infringed; but, as before ihorities. Our opponents, on the contrary, observed, we have to appeal to facts rather content themselves with appeals to our re than to principles—to the working of the spect for that institution which is the glory machine rather than to its ingenious conof the English law;" to our veneration for struction. this “most transcendant privilege;" and to The evils often produced by the rule of unanimity are too well known to require the whole number of the common jury has proof; yet the case of the Dublin jury (p. been fixed at twelve, wbile the ancient rule, 391) and the instances adduced by “ Threl which requires twelve for a conviction, rekeld" are a host in themselves to condemn a mains unaltered. Hence, the present absurd system of which they are truly the effects practice is neither sanctioned by legislative and the samples. Such cases are not rare. enactment nor immemorial rule, but remains It is with regret we state that they can be as a corruption on the purity of the ancient quoted in abundance. How, then, can the system. This disposes of the legal and hisparent of such evils be conducive to the at- torical objection to the improvement of the tainment of justice? “ Beta” and T. W. R. jury law; and if T. W. R. be earnest in his have both attempted to prove the affirmative, commendation of the advice of Blackstone, yet they have inet these facts without denial he will at once take part with us, and strive or explanation. The truth is, they are un- to have the rule of unanimity altered to “the answerable; and it is more convincing to ancient dignity" of a rule of majority. present such cases than whole pages of the- There are a series of objections brought ory. Our duty is done; our arguments rest against the working of the proposed rule of on solid facts, which have not been impugned. majority! yet they are all disproved by the But as it would be uncourteous to leave our fact of its harmonious and useful working in opponents without any reply, and it is, be- Scotland. We make the assertion that it is sides, curious to examine the arguments impossible for twelve men unanimously to which they see fit to bring forward, we will concur in a verdict on all evidence placed devote a few lines to this purpose.
before them. In support of that assertion Both “ Beta” and T. W. R. shudder at the we could cite a thousand instances, similar thought of unballowed hands being laid upon to those adduced by “Threlkeld.” What, our jury system; and the latter calls our then, must be the inevitable result of an attention to some observations of Blackstone, attempt to coerce the jury into unanimity? deprecating any change therein. What is it The very opposite of that respect and venethat Blackstone says? It is a duty which ration which "Beta” and T. W. R. demand every man owes to his country, &c., to main- for “ this transcendant privilege." It is notain this valuable institution in all its rights, torious that it is only a respect for the noble
to restore it to its ancient dignity, if at all principle of a jury which has so long reimpaired by the different value of property, tained in existence an institution, so absurd or if it have OTHERWISE deviated from its in practice and so glorious in theory! first institution; and, above all, to guard with The advantages said to follow the rule of the most zealous circumspection against the unanimity, according to “Beta," are, 1. That a introduction of new arbitrary methods of unanimous verdict carries more weight, and is trial.” Now, what improvement is it that less liable to dispute, than a verdict decided by we wish to see effected in the English jury a small majority. But the fact is otherwise. system? It is, “ to restore it to its ancient So well is it known amongst lawyers that dignity,” and to remove that new and arbi- the obstinacy, prejudice, or dishonesty of one trary method of trial which has crept in individual may, and often does, corrupt the among our institutions, through some devia- verdict of the eleven, that applications for tion from the ancient practice. If T. W. R. rules for a new trial are greatly more numewill refer to our opening article, he will see rous in England than are, in proportion, that the ancient rule was not that of unan- appeals in Scotland. The very fact of an imity, but that, whatever the number of the application for a new trial being allowed at jury, twelve at least should concur in a ver- all, shows that, in the minds of our judges dict of guilty. A grand jury may consist of and lawyers, the verdict of a jury is not alany number, from twelve to twenty-three. ways regarded with respect; and we would When there is a full complement, the ancient remind " Beta," that a new trial can be derule required only a bare majority. The manded on the ground of a verdict being absurd result that a petty jury must always given contrary to the evidence. I formerly be unanimous, has been a deviation from the said “that it is impossible but that some ancient rule of majority, effected probably in jurymen) must perjure themselves, in asthis manner. With a view to convenience, I senting to verdicts in which they do not
conscientiously concur.” Hereupon follows a or, if they are as firm as himself, the jury is reproof from T. W. R., because (as he seems discharged. In either case, the ends of justo have understood) I have attacked the in- tice are defeated or delayed, while under the tegrity of all juryinen! If I deserve blame, rule of a majority conviction or acquittal much more does the judge who refuses to would follow, without the promptings of the receive the verdict of his jury, because their stomach to hasten its decision. decision is contrary to the evidence placed In conclusion, our opponents seem to think before them. Such cases have been : and that in countries where the rule of majority whi the rule of unanimity obtains, will be prevails—Scotland, France, and others—all again.
verdicts are decided by vote. But it is only The three other advantages adduced by in those doubtful cases which, under the “ Beta” pertain as much to courts where English system, render justice a mockery juries decide by the rule of majority. No and law a lottery, that the voices of the maone can say that " cases are more carefully jority decide a verdict. Such is our answer got up"—that“ verdicts are more justly de- to the articles of " Beta” and T. W. R. cided”-in England than in Scotland, nor Written in well-conceived language, and the that a Scottish jury submits to be browbeaten latter in that gentlemanly and amiable style by insolent advocates or venal judges more which ought to pervade all debates in the than an English one. Nay, the fact is other- Controversialist, they have afforded us pleawise, because the Scottish advocates appeal sure to peruse. Yet we hope we have, even more to the reason than to the passions of to their perception, shown the fallacy of the the jury. As the majority will decide the arguments brought against the rule of maverdict, it is not necessary nor useful, to de- jority, and the special advantages said to feat the ends of justice, to make a partisan belong to the rule of unanimity. But, if by of one.
In England, let the feelings of one our want of power to lead this debate promember of the jury be roused in favour of perly, we were unable to accomplish this, we the accused, in opposition to the convictions fall back upon our strong reserve of factsof the eleven, and what is the result? If “stubborn facts”—which will one day sweep the one is firm and unyielding (or has had away the rule of unanimity, along with other the foresight to come with his pockets stuffed corruptions fostered on the pure simplicity of with food), the eleven come to his opinion; the English law.
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