Tuesday, 29 April 2014
The jury's out
Because that's what happened in the trial of Max Clifford, who was found guilty yesterday of eight indecent assaults on women as young as 15.
He may very well be guilty - certainly the women concerned say he is - but surely if the facts were clear-cut it shouldn't take that long to decide? There must have been some pretty heated debate in the jury room between those who thought he was innocent and those who didn't.
Yet everyone from the media to the woman in the street is treating the verdicts as totally reliable, with no doubts of any kind. All that matters is that verdicts were reached, and how they were reached is irrelevant.
Unfortunately the law bans jurors from explaining their deliberations, so we have no idea to what extent they thought he might be innocent.
But it seems to me there should be a time limit on how long the jury can consider a case, and once that limit is met either there should be a new trial or the case should be abandoned. Some juries have taken over three weeks to reach verdicts, but still the verdicts were accepted.
You would think such lengthy ruminations would be grounds for an appeal against the decision, but I've never heard of that happening.
Of course you could also argue that if the jury come to a conclusion too quickly, that verdict is equally unreliable, but what's more likely is that the evidence was so overwhelming there was simply no room for argument.
But for many people a verdict is a verdict, and they don't really think about how it was arrived at. Especially if they were sure of Max Clifford's guilt to begin with.
Pic: Max Clifford