Saturday, December 16, 2017

Why use a ‘special jury’?

The Express story headlined “Specialist jury to hear charges in IPO probe” attracted my attention.

Is it necessary to have a special jury “comprising persons with expertise in finance, banking, accounting, business, economics, management, securities and investments” to adjudicate, if necessary, on matters of this nature? If so, then why not include persons with expertise in ethics and criminal and civil law?

Why have a “special” jury? What if any of the specialist jurors are themselves “guilty” of committing undetected white-collar crimes? Where might his/her sympathies lie? 

A jury of one’s peers is meant to offer “a guaranteed right of criminal defendants, in which “peer” means an “equal”. Can the Miscellaneous Provisions (Administration of Justice) Bill, recently piloted by the Attorney General in the House of Representatives, ensure impartiality on the part of a “specialist jury?” Shouldn’t equal emphasis be placed on selecting impartial jurors in all instances where trial by jury is the accustomed way of establishing a defendant’s guilt? 

The impartiality of jurors should be on par with their understanding of matters on which they have been sworn to adjudicate. If equal emphasis is not afforded to the descriptive words “special” and “impartial”, then collusion may be seen as the order of the new jury day.

John Henry

Petit Valley