Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

Not another bloody inquiry

Yes, apparently Leicestershire Police want an inquiry into their failings in the case of Greville Janner, and the failings of the CPS.

Another bloody inquiry, obsessed with internal processes, not structures and culture. That’ll be really useful.

Jem wrote compassionately, and wisely, about the Janner case here. I have nothing to add to that.

One of the key features of the Janner case is the opacity of decision making about who gets prosecuted, and who goes to trial. Key elements of the experience of the victims of crime are administrative decisions made behind closed doors, in which the victim, and the public, have no part.

It was not always thus. Various jurisdictions, including England and Wales, have experimented over the years with forms of public pre-trial decision making, such as grand juries and committal hearings. All of them have been abandoned in England and Wales in favour of a kind of administrative tyranny.

I am old enough to remember when offenders charged with indictable offences had an option of a committal hearing before a panel of magistrates who would decide if there was sufficient evidence for a mater to go to trial. Hand in hand with the decline of the lay magistracy has gone the gradual decline of the committal hearing to little more than a glorified case management process, and that bland phrase- ‘case management’ goes to the heart of the way in which justice has been bureaucratized, and closed off from the outside world.

Two key decisions made in every case, but especially cases like Janner’s, should be tested in a way that allows the public to see justice being done. The test of evidence – is there a case to be tried, that shows a likelihood of a jury being able to reach a decision, requires lay involvement. The second test, whether it is in the public interest to try the case (where Janner’s prosecution apparently stalled, because there is no public interest in trying those who cannot defend themselves) should also be in public, with lay involvement. If you want to know why I think that matters, one name will suffice. Ernest Saunders. I trust a lay jury, properly directed to make decisions which will always, if made behind closed doors by administrators, always be suspect.

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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