A crime against humanity
John is doing “jury service” this week. Two days so far sitting in a waiting room, then being dismissed at lunchtime because nothing was happening. What a splendidly productive use of a busy man’s time, not to mention the taxpayer’s money! John is at least fortunate that his day job is with an organisation big enough to take the loss.
Jury service, like tax, is the state taking from its citizens without the option. Unlike taxes, it doesn’t pay for anything productive: rather you’re being coopted to listen to grossly overpaid actors (aka barristers) performing, without the benefit of a show you would want to see. OK, which barrister convinced you? That’ll be the one working for the biggest crook, who knows how to Play the System. If you ever believed The Liar, you’re likely to be convinced by the biggest liar in court, too.
And you’re deprived of your liberty and normal life for an indefinite period: unlike convicted criminals, jurors don’t get time off for good behaviour. Self-employed, or a crucial person in a small business? Tough – just go under, as you cannot service your contracts, and if you’re lucky you can start again before you lose your house at least. A teacher? That’s 30 kids with their education disrupted, unless the school happens to have quite a lot of slack.
This whole jury system is a crime against humanity. So what can one do about it? If you Play the Game and pronounce a verdict based on the show you’ve just seen, you’re letting yourself become complicit in that crime. If you refuse to go when summoned, you commit a criminal offence (though the penalties for it might be less trouble than the service itself). There’s no satisfactory solution.
To cap it all, if you get a real gangster, you and your loved ones might be at significant personal risk if you find against them. And of course they’ll then get any adverse verdict overturned by a higher court without the encumbrance of a jury, on the time-honoured principle of innocent until proven broke.
It seems to me that, so long as the loss of time is bearable, the least bad outcomeis non-cooperation within the law. That means going through the motions, but discounting everything presented to you by those overpaid spin-doctors in court. You have (by law) to give a verdict, and there’s only one verdict in a criminal case:
- If the accused didn’t do it, they are Not Guilty.
- If the accused did do it, they are still Not Guilty. That’s the lesser of two evils: it’s an injustice, but one that has to be set against complicity in the far bigger crime of the jury system.
Any exceptions to that? Certainly not when trying a private individual: not even someone like Ian Huntley or Fred and Rosemary West. For a public figure whose crimes are on a global scale? Well, if I were on the jury for The Liar himself, it would be a tough call.