Pistorius vs Pryce – A trial by jury?

Two recent news stories got me thinking about whether we really need a trial by jury anymore.

The first was the high profile case of Oscar Pistorius who, under the South African legal system, will be tried by judge rather than jury.  The obvious benefits are that the judge has to give written reasons for his findings of fact and in cases which are high profile there is no risk of a lay jury being swayed by media reports.

The other case is also high profile.  The government minister, Chris Huhne, whose wife (Vicky Pryce) took his speeding penalty for him. She was being tried by jury and the judge dismissed the jury after they had been deliberating for 14 hours because they had showed a complete lack of understanding of their basic duties.  For example they asked what her religious convictions were and whether they could reach a decision based on reasons not presented in court and not supported by evidence!

Based on those stories, I think I know which one I would choose – what about you?

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