Trial Without Jury
In February 2017 during a trial at Leeds Crown Court, HHJ Goss discharged a jury and continued the trial in their absence in response to attempts made to tamper with the jury’s verdict. Partway through his summing up the Court was required to be evacuated and during this time 5 jurors were approached and offered bribes in return for certain verdicts. The jurors informed HHJ Goss who then made the exceptional decision to discharge the jury and deliberate on the verdict himself. He convicted all 3 defendants of conspiracy to commit fraud and he also found 2 of them guilty of manslaughter. Whilst the legislation allowing a trial to take place in the absence of the jury has been in place for many years this is only the second time we have seen that power being exercised.
The power to discharge a jury and continue a trial in their absence is provided by section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA). Under this section a judge is able to convict and sentence defendants but only in limited circumstances. Section 44(3) CJA sets out the conditions which must be met; the judge must be satisfied that jury tampering has taken place and that to continue the trial without a jury would be fair to the defendant or defendants. However, if the judge considers that it is necessary in the interests of justice for the trial to be terminated, he must terminate the trial.
In an age where social media is becoming widespread it will be interesting to see if it plays a part in the number of times this power is utilised by Judges as access to jurors becomes more attainable.
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Ilana is a criminal litigator specialising in white collar crime and corporate fraud matters. She is currently representing client’s both pre and post charge in relation to allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, land banking and LIBOR fixing. Ilana also specialises in representing clients in Restraint and Confiscation proceedings.