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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights : Crime & Police : Protest Activity

Application for Excusal from Jury Service

Making a point about costs in criminal cases

Dear Sir...

If a jury acquits a defendant, the Crown holds the verdict in contempt by failing to reimburse the defendant for legal costs and other losses and expenses, and by failing to compensate the defendant for pre-trial incarceration. These outcomes are inconsistent with an unrebutted presumption of innocence. They reduce the criminal trial to a charade in which the defendant will be punished regardless of the verdict, and in which, in many cases, one could seriously argue that an innocent defendant would minimize his losses by not contesting the charge.

I consider it my civic duty to oppose this evil by all lawful means at my disposal, including whatever leverage is given to me by my receipt of your "Notice to Prospective Juror". Accordingly:

  • I object to jury service on the ground that I do not wish to be a party to a violation of human rights, masquerading as justice.
  • I serve notice that if I am empanelled in spite of the aforesaid objection, I shall ensure that my fellow jurors are aware that the accused will be punished even if acquitted, and I shall adduce this fact in favour of the accused in the event of any dispute or uncertainty over (a) whether the degree of doubt is reasonable, (b) whether the degree of responsibility points to a lesser charge, (c) whether a law, in principle or as applied to the particular case, should be nullified by the jury as being unjust or oppressive, (d) whether a law purporting to define a certain defence as "affirmative", thereby shifting the onus of proof onto the defendant, should be disregarded, or (e) whether a single juror should force a no-trial on any of the aforesaid issues.

That will be my position until such time as all acquitted defendants are automatically entitled to costs and compensation.

Lest anyone question my bona fides, I attach a selection of my writings on this subject, dating back to 1991.


Yours faithfully...


— To the Sheriff of Queensland,
December 22, 2006.

 

Copyright © Gavin R. Putland except as otherwise attributed. Originally posted at Leges Dubiae under the title Application for Excusal from Jury Service. You may republish this item verbatim on your website or blog provided that (a) you include this notice (with hyperlinks), and (b) you re-host any embedded graphics (or otherwise comply with the host's guidelines).

 
 


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