Jury trials at risk

| 14/07/2010

(CNS): Local defence attorneys have raised very serious concerns over proposals to remove the right of an accused person to be tried by a jury. In its review of the country’s criminal justice laws the government wants to remove the right of defendants in any kind of firearms case to a jury trial and have them face a judge alone. Fuelled by police concerns over jury intimidation and the failure of the prosecution to gain convictions in gang related violence, the authorities are taking what the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association believes is a step too far. Vehemently opposing the move, the CICDBA said the system of trial by judge and jury is of fundamental constitutional significance and called on the community to back their request to have the proposal removed from the bill.

“The quality of our system of criminal justice is a key marker in the Islands’ international reputation as a first-world jurisdiction and a leading financial centre,” the association noted in a letter to the attorney general spelling out its objections to the proposal. “Our association submits that in relation to all but minor criminal offences, the task of determining whether a person is guilty should remain within the province of the jury. Indeed, the more serious the crime, the more important the role of the jury becomes.”
 
The tradition of being tried by a jury was enshrined in what has been seen as the world’s first proclamation of human rights – the Magna Carta of 1251. Today, the commonwealth jurisdictions of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as the USA, continue to use the jury in serious cases. Both English common law and the United States Constitution recognize the right to a jury trial to be a fundamental civil liberty.
 
In their efforts to dissuade the attorney general from removing this fundamental human right the local attorneys drew on Lord Devlin’s book "Trial by Jury", spelling out the significance of the move. “The second object of any tyrant would be to overthrow or diminish trial by jury, for no tyrant could afford to leave a subject’s freedom in the hands of twelve of his countrymen. So that trial by jury is more than an instrument of justice and more than one wheel of the constitution: it is the lamp that shows freedom lives, “Devlin wrote.
 
The defence lawyers pointed out that under the country’s laws juries are “peculiarly well equipped” to decide who is guilty or not and that they maintain the high standard of proof in criminal trials, since at least five people, or twelve in murder cases, must be satisfied of guilt in order to obtain a conviction.
 
“Learned as our judges are in the law, we are confident that to a man they will readily concede that they are no more qualified than the layman, who harkens to his own experience of life and human affairs, to determine matters of fact in the criminal jurisdiction,” the CICDBA wrote.
 
The lawyers say that by reducing the “tribunal of fact to a single individual” it will increase the risk of innocent people being convicted of serious crimes. “That should concern each and every one of us. Recent events in the Cayman Islands should remind us that none of us, even judges, are immune from wrongful arrest and prosecution by the State,” the attorneys noted.
 
They pointed out the concept of a jury trial is instrumental in maintaining fundamental rights and the rule of law illustrated by its reintroduction in countries when totalitarian regimes collapse.
 
While jurors are also subject to human frailties and prejudices as are judges, the association pointed out that they are exposed by fellow jurors during deliberations. “The sheer number and diversity of jurors, each with their own knowledge and experience serves to challenge prejudice, pool knowledge and guarantee fairness.”
 
Acknowledging the increasing gravity and frequency of firearms offences in Cayman, the lawyers said, however, that the more serious the charge, the more necessary a jury trial becomes.”This is why juries have always been required in more serious cases as opposed to trial by single judge in less serious cases and why murder, the most serious of all crimes, requires 12 jurors instead of the usual seven,” their letter stated. The need for ordinary members of the public to be engaged during a time of rising crime was also noted by the CICDBA. “Since it is the community we are striving to protect, surely it is the community that must have a share in the process.”
 
The association also questioned where the evidence was to suggest juries were being hampered as they said it was very rare and where it happened jurors had come forward to make the report.
 
The comparison recently made by the police commissioner to the Diplock courts in Northern Ireland, which tried terrorist cases, does not support an argument to extend the principle generally, the lawyers contended.  They also raised concerns of the implication that juries are acquitting where they should be convicting because their judgement is poor or they are biased
 
“To hold this position is to insult the intelligence or integrity of the public. In the absence of evidence, it could just as easily be postulated that juries are convicting where they should be acquitting. Such suggestions are completely unsubstantiated. Any legitimate concerns as to the impartiality of jurors should be addressed by examining the vetting system rather than simply abolishing juries out of hand,” the defence lawyers argued.
 
They also pointed out that ‘gun courts’ in Jamaica, where judges try cases without a jury had failed to stem the increase in violent gun crime in that country.
 
The association pointed out that removing civil liberties was not the way to address some of the problems the crown faced in gaining prosecutions. “Measures should first be introduced to improve basic policing and detection rates so that jurors can be satisfied that they are being invited to convict the guilty rather than the innocent,” the letter stated.
 
The CIDBA said the proposal was both unconscionable and indefensible and urged the attorney general and everyone who believed in the virtues of liberty to support the association’s plea for the removal of the offending proposals.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up."

  2. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Since rights only protect us from the abuses of the government (local and UK), it makes me wonder why my right to a jury of my peers would be disliked by the government.

    • Florence Goring-Nozza says:

       

      Dennie Warren, you are so right on the gun issue and also the trial by jury. You certainly  do your home work before you talk a lot or people do not.

      On the issue of ,Not Having a Right to a Jury Trial. This is more common in socialist and communist countries where there is dictatorship rule. The citizens become more are at risk and more vulnerable to the judiciary, The elected government, the Premier, or  Governor.  This chain of command are all  in a position to tell any Judge trying cases alone and not with 12 jurors  to "jail and imprison" all who oppose the government whether they are Guilty or Innocent .These powers that be have limited access to instruct a jury of 12 people to do the same. It is unlikely.  Are we left to believe that this is a step made in attempt simply take away the democratic right of the accused  and could this just be the reason for the proposed change? The Public must take this more seriously as it concerns your very ‘RIGHTS & FREEDOM"

      This is the most dangerous proposal known to man, and after doing my own research on the subject, my first response on yesterday is totally in agreement with that of Mr. Arthur Hunter. I might add that If this new proposal becomes legislation, the country will become third world over night, we will lose our position as a country of political and economic stability and Tourism will drop significantly, and we will be black marked on the world stage of Financial Big players. There is also the concern of the integrity of the trial by judge only, this puts the judge as an autocratic presiding  in a position  of temptation to accept bribes very easily in cases where the accused is of significant economic standing and can easily purchase his or her freedom, with no jury to witness what happened,right in the court room !. He or she can also easily slip a big check into the judge’s pocket.  He or  she can also slip a Big hand written note of Threat to his life into the judges pocket ! Why is no one else thinking of these possibilities.? They may be conspiracy theories, but they turn out to be real 99% of the time.

      This is not a good idea, it is dangerous, deadly, and certainly not the solution to the problem.

      A trial by jury should remain. Its a lot harder to access 12 people than one judge.  So there’s some other underlying motive for this proposed change that is not being discussed by government. There have been other conversations taking place you and I are not privy to. I’m not convinced that the problem is simply government concerned about jurors being threatened even though I share the same sentiments of concern for jurors’ safety.

  3. Need for Change says:

    We can all sit in front of our computers and say what we feel, but until one of us is sitting infront of that Judge or that Jury… The right to have a trial by jury should not be taken away, that kind of power should not go into the hands of one person alone! It can lead to abuse of power. AND if the the Cayman Jurors are so uninformed about the law, then inform them about the law, 3 CI Dollars can get you a copy of any law in effect in The Cayman Islands. I once had a Judge tell a good friend of mines, (being tried by Judge alone) "I dont care what the law says, you are in my courtroom now"

    I agree with some people on here, there is a lot of gun crime in Cayman now, but if we want to clean this up, start from theroot of the problem, not prooning the leaves of the problem.

  4. Dennis Smith says:

    I grew up in the mountains of Alberta with rifles and shotguns racked on Elk horns that almost covered the living room wall.

    My father and grandfather were exceptional marksmen. I was taught how to handle a rifle at a very early age. We never owned handguns, not even toy handguns. Dad said that handguns were for killing people and even pointing a toy gun at a person was wrong, dangerous and a bad habit.

    In Canada we lived in the bush and hunted, sometimes we killed animals for protection. One winter a starving mountain lion ate a boy just outside my school and was shot by a neighbor. Dad opened our back door one morning and shot a huge bear on our porch.

    No duck hunting, big game hunting or any dangerous animals eating kids in Cayman so what do I need a gun or rife for?

    In Cayman the law says that it is illegal to own a gun or a rifle. A good law, here – guns are used for killing people.

    If you use a gun to commit a crime it means that you have already decided that you are willing to kill a person. You’ve elected to take a person’s right to live. No judge or jury involved, no concern for another person’s rights or family, just your own selfish wants.

    If you want the right to a jury trial – to be judged like a member of the community, don’t own or use a gun. Not for any reason at all. If you do, you give up your rights to the protection our society gives it members. Be very glade that you have the right to a trial.
    No guns. Not too hard to understand.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      You were misled by your father about handguns.

      FYI: it’s legal to own firearms in the Cayman Islands.  I have legally owned firearms here since 1994 and still do.  I reserve my right to personal protection by any legal means, including by firearms (Section 18(1)(a) of the Firearms Law).

      • Gun lovin' criminals says:

        Seriously, you are so wrong about s18(1)(a).  Go talk to someone who actually knows what they are talking about rather than spreading complete misinformation. 

        • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

          Any lawyer can sign their real and full name, and the real and full name of their law firm to a blog saying that s.18(1)(a) doesn’t actually mean what the text actually says.

          For the record, Section 18(1)(a) of the Firearms Law (2008 Revision) reads: "No person shall discharge any firearm on or within forty yards of any public road or in any public place except in the lawful protection of his person or property or of the person or property of some other person"

          By the way, with a pseudonym like "Gun lovin’ criminals," why should I listen to anything you say?

          • Gun lovin' criminals says:

            My pseudonym is a pun on the name of a succesful music act, but you probably did not know that.

            The point you miss, and it has been pointed out to you time and time again on this site, is that the "lawful protection of his person or property" exception is simply a carve out to protect a defence to a charge of unlawfully discharging a weapon near the highway.

            Saying that it leaves the issue of "lawful protection" which would be defined by the ordinary strict standards applicable to self-defence, and it would need credible evidence of threat to life or limb to ever get a defence up and running in respect of a decision to use lethal force by discharging a weapon.  Practically using a wepaon to shoot someone to protect property is going to get you in jail. 

             

            • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

              I seriously consider everything said to me, but you’re missing the obvious.  Section 18(1)(a) is a restriction on the discharge of firearms within 120ft of any other public place (roads…), or in any public place, EXCEPT where the holder of a firearms license is using the firearm “…in the lawful protection of his person or property or of the person or property of some other person.”

              The law is clear.  Should lawfully armed jurors unfortunately be attacked by unlawfullyarmed criminals seeking to murder the jurors, section 18(1)(a) is a Statuary right to discharge a lawfully owned firearm in the lawful protection of themselves or some other person (their families, friends…).

              Criminals could block the doors of your home with you inside and set your house on fire.  During such an event, are they attacking you or your property?  Would the holder of a lawfully owned firearm be viewed as breaching the law should he or she shoot the criminals during the commission of the previously mentioned crimes?

              Like I said, any lawyer can sign their real and full name, and the real and full name of their law firm to a blog saying that s.18(1)(a) doesn’t actually mean what the text actually says.

              Our right to be tried by a jury of our peers is non-negotiable.

    • Anonymous says:

      To Dennis Smith,

      I too was raised in a gun oriented environment of the National Rifleman Association variety and had my first gun at the age of 13. Hunting was the norm in the family and my mother was a better shot with a shotgun than my father.

      We all had numerous guns and went hunting on a regular basis.

      The rule with our family was against hand guns as well. Hand guns are for killing people was the rule we were raised with as well. Those people who pretend they have hand guns for any other reason are being dishonest with themselves regardless of the law. I place automatic weapons in the same category as hand guns.

      I once saw my brother shoot a rabbit with his 9 mm uzi and for hunting those guns are useless, the rabbit was destroyed, uzis are man killers. Anyone who has shot an automatic weapon knows they are for killing people.

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Re: “Hand guns are for killing people was the rule we were raised with as well.”

        In your view, during a home invasion, would it be wrong for you to lawfully prevent or stop criminals from attempting to murder your innocent spouse and kids, by means of a firearm?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is just the beginning! Many rights will be eroded in the name of crime fighting …and one day they will come for you (law abiding citizens) and take your rights also!

  6. Slowpoke says:

    I am a Caymanian who has been on the Electoral list for years and years, but have never been called.  Maybe I won the lottery, or maybe the selection process is flawed, who knows? 

    That said, If I was accused of a major crime, I would choose "Judge Alone".

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Arthur is absolutely correct and of course, he speaks from a position of knowing that of which he speaks. Thefundamental issue is in quality investigating and presenting an iron-clad case to the prosecutors. Following that, I doubt any prosecutor would ruin his/her reputation and career by intentionally ‘under-prosecuting’ a case. Similarly, I really doubt a responsible jury would ignore well-presented and unequivocal evidence.

    If the fear of retribution is the driver behind this consideration, I would think it more difficult to victimize 12 persons (if one is so inclined) than to go after one. 

    The status quo should be maintained and other considerations based on individual merit of the particular case.

     

    • Dennis Smith says:

      I think you only to intimidate 1 juror out of 12 for murder. Should be able to find one person in the Jury that you can have your friends scare the hell out of. With only a judge that might be more difficult or might even result in the opposite effect. Something to think about.

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        I would feel privileged to occupy the jury seat abandoned by any coward who is unwilling to carry out his or her civic duty.

  8. Anonymous says:

    yes we all want the gang leaders and gunmen behind bars where they belong. however………………… this is just another example of the governments inexperience and foolishness in making these requests.

    • Bow Line says:

      Re: Judge & Jury There’s little talk of underlying causes of crime & violence.This must be examined intently.A chronological view of the timeline,political,social & economic.Here’s a country not long ago that locks on doors were not necessary.Caymans youth have more issues now than we could have imagined back then.A pivotal compounding factor was when Cayman parents were warned not to physically discipline their kids.This was regionally a inadherent concept that couldn’t be applied with most kids.But sum kids are born stubborn,but still the belt was withheld by most.Now we throw in economic issues that the fathers of many of these same kids are also affected by & often embrace escapism traditions,which in many cases encroaches on family time.The role model of the father is profound as kids absorb everything they see.Is it just coincidence that almost every country near & far there’s identical issues?So kids have a belligerrant composition & are recieved as ill-mannered & avoided.So its not entirely their fault,it just wasn’t curtailed from young,so they expected this would be how everyone would deal with wrongs,there’s no serious consequences.Its not right to target peoples kids,when the country they were born in now has a parental lackin sense of the chain of command,respective of elders first.I wasn’t a terribly stubborn youth,but i’ll say this my Grandfather & Granma never once strapped me,but when i was spoken to,i surely listened,i dreaded for them to speak in rebuke,still do.There was no condemnation known to man,worse than for being messy or leavin even a spoon in the sink.None.

  9. Archibald says:

    The full jury system does not work here. 

    Matters might work better if we had a limited number of JP’s or appointed jurats who could sit on matters with a judge – perhaps 2 jurats or maybe 4 (plus the judge to make a panel of 3 or 5).

    I am convinced from direct experience that there are many criminals who walk free in Cayman because of the inadequacy of the jury system in such a limited community.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is not the jury system, the problem is shoddy police and legal department work.  Our people are not fools they can see when the police have not done their job, many times charging people that are innocent to protect the guilty.  There are some people in our islands that were charged by police for murderes that they did not commit and jury’s found them not guilty. These people would have been hung.

      This law change by the UDP is allowing the English police to bring to the Cayman Islands from Northern Ireland oppressive laws that have caused much unrest because of the injustice in that country.  We will more of a police state.

      People do not be fooled your rights to a jury trial are being taken away, speak up, act up or suffer.

      • anonymous says:

        Big Mac is not concerned about your rights to a jury trial, he’s interested in you ‘HAVING NO RIGHTS AT ALL, INCLUDING YOUR RIGHTS TO A JURY TRIAL" which is crucial to him having full power and control over your life! you dummys XXXXX

        Do you screaming idiots realize that having no rights to a jury trial means that you are moving towards a dictatorship government and a socialist regime?

        Why are you all so stupid, is there something in the water?

        Let him get away with this one and you are XXXX FOREVER 

        • anonymous says:

          I believe that the British Government need to pay attention into how this country is governed. There are far too many communistic and socialistic sentiments working and infiltrating our democratic systems.

          the Premier is seen in a photo with the Cuban ambassador, He’s making trips to Cuba under the guise of new trade agreements.!

          I grew up in politics,   You can take this for what it’s worth, but this man has plans to control this country for a very long time any way he can.

          He is a dictator and is receiving training to be a good strong and powerful one.   Don’t allow it. fore him to step down, or you’ll have another Castro in the Caribbean.  He is now courting the Jamaican Government as well,  promising visas to murderous Criiminals  My God what is wrong with you people can’t you see the man is out to destroy you?   Ask him to step down because you are not happy with his leadersip. You have a constitutional right to ask any leader to step down willingly, if he does not then you have an option to have him removed with the necessary signatures.!  How can you say you are a nation if you do not exercise your constitutional rights? Are you waiting for him to tell you what your rights are? You idiots you better move and fast! he’s losing no time selling your inheritance.

        • Anonymous says:

          WE ARE CERTAINLY MODELLING AFTER CUBA NOW. The trial without Jury and when you see people walking out of supermarkets with groceries in their hands it certainly reminds me of Cuba. No wonder we want to get friendly  with Cuba in the Tourist business. May God Almighty help us. I am looking forward any day now to hear that some of our good Caymanian Leaders came up out of their graves.

    • anonymous says:

      Some of those jury selected are "air heads" not really educated, and have no guts, nor deep thinking capacity. The reall smart and brilliant people never get called to jury duty!  If they did, all these varmints would be locked up for a very long time.

      That’s a fact. Its the bad selection or jury that is not working.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So justice in country’s that do not have jury trials is always inferior to those that do?That’s a big leap. Sorry, but Sir William is long gone, and in any case, are we to assume he would rule out trial by judge alone given the peculiar circumstances here?

     
  11. Chris Johnson says:

    Arthur thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. I completely agree with you.

    • anonymous says:

      Ms. Florence Goring-Nozza, Thanks for opening our eyes once again. And thanks for standing up for what is right as you always do.You truly are a brilliant  and informed scholar! and you’re always right on target. Yes I understand now, removal of the right to a jury is definitely an erosion of my fundamental rights and freedoms as a citizen of the Cayman Islands.

  12. Balanced View says:

    This is what happens when we live amongst spineless cowards who would prefer to live amongst and tolerate crime rather than take their civic duty serious enough to assist putting violent criminals behind bars.

    I know people who boast that they are not registered to vote because they do not want to be called for jury duty.

    This country was never fought for, and if we don’t start to assert ourselves and stand by our convictions – even if that means bloodshed and sacrifice- then nothing new and improved will come about.

    We had better realise that democracy and the rule of law comes at a price and if we are not prepared to pay the price then we better get prepared to loose it…

    • Anonymous says:

      Balance View

      Your frustrations are shared.

      However much of our crime problems is a direct result of our governance system that does not believe that it has to be compliant with the laws of our Islands.  Further if the laws get in the way of what our government wants to do to reward their own friends then the laws are changed to assist them. 

      Crime is the outward sign of inward spiritual destruction of our society caused by the destructive assault from our leaders.

      Look at what the government did over the past few days; they changed the planning law so that the planning law no longer applies to government!  And you really expect the general public to respect law and order? 

      How do you expect the public to respect law and order when our Premier says that the laws requiring the orderly processing of approvals are getting in his way so he changes the law to abandon the principles of good government with checks and balances to protect the interests of the people of the Cayman Islands?

      Balance View please take a look at the bigger picture of what this UDP government is doing to destroy our way of life.

      Taking away the right to trial by jury will cause further destruction in our society.

       

  13. Anonymous says:

    Lawyers love to pander to juries and try to muddy the waters and they know they stand a far better chance of winning a case where they can create doubt and confuse a jury.  However, it is not that easy for them to do in front of a learned judge.  Please understand, it is not about making it harder for you to win cases, it is about justice.  Society seems to think it is ok to commit an offence and use whatever means they can to get off, including where that means getting a smart lawyer, confusing a jury, getting relatives on the jury, or downright subtly intimidating them.  The less of a jury we have the better off society will be.  Ask those selected for jury would rather not be there and you will see how many are willing to serve.  Not many. 

    • Anonymous says:

      So the oppressors fooled you too or maybe you are one of them.

      It would be good if you could dig up the graves of the millions of oppressed people in England, Scotland and Wales to listen to those who suffered and died under thehands of their Lords and Masters in the dictatorial monarchial system of the selective legal system used to enforce authority like they have in Northern Ireland for over 700 years.  These people fought for the right to a jury trial over 800 years ago and we are now giving it up to satisfy the wishes of a corrupt legal and governance system that breeds crime.

      Please do not let it be that they died in vain for an ungrateful society.

      The right to a jury trial needs to be in our Constitution as is in other democratic countries.

  14. Dagny says:

    The right to trial by jury was a system invented in a faraway land, a long, long time ago where there were many people who lived, some of whom were notrelated to the defendants.  Nothing says this system should necessarily work in the Cayman Islands and since it clearly doesn’t, ditch it.

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Dangy

      It is my wish that you too are never framed by the police to protect the real criminals.

      If it ever occurs to you then you will understand why trial by jury is so important.

      All of democratic system is being eroded, can you not see that?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The island is too small to hold jury trials in big cases. Everybody knows everybody and it’s pretty much guaranteed that every wangster in the dock knows somebody who knows somebody who can get at the jurors and sway their votes.

    To be fair the gene pool of prospective jurors is also very limited (only natives on the polling register) so effectively limiting the chance of a fair and honest trial.

    I’m not sure if I’d agree with trial by judge though in big cases, as the judges can easily be bought or threatened too. maybe expanding the pool to include more residents and/or bring in jurors from overseas who can be entirely impartial.

  16. TennisAce says:

     One of the fundamental problems that Cayman has is the fact that the population as it is now cannot in any shape or form guarantee an objective jury.  The only persons who are able to sit on a jury in Cayman are those who are on the electoral list.  As that list is quite short and most of those who are on the list are also related to those who have been charged with offences, or are friends, or are in some way connected, they are automatically recused from sitting on a jury. 

    I can recall a recent case where a case had to be adjourned while the Clerk of the Court walked the streets of George Town trying to find qualified Caymanians to sit.  People in Cayman talk about wanting criminals to be locked up but the minute there is any talk of having new Caymanians minted by way of Status Grants, here comes the others who talk about Cayman for  Caymanians. 

    The country needs newly minted Caymanians if only to show that these folks are not connected in any way shape or form to those who are being charged with offences.   Barring that, perhaps we should let the wealthy expats who are coming in sit on juries. 

    It is either that or we have judge alone trials.  Simple

    • Dooey, Cheetham & Howe, lawyers says:

       I would have thought it time the jury pool be opened to all residents, not just Caymanians and paper Caymanians.

      As a side issue it’s not only the small number of available jurors in Cayman but can also be the nature of the jurors. Frequently women outnumber men 3 or 4 to 1 on a jury, and other times the typical age of a juror is 20’s or 30’s. Of legal age yes, but with plenty of life experience?   With respect to all jurors, not all can take on board the facts of a long trial and make an objective judgement at the end of it. Why not include expats in this – it would give them a chance to do some Civic duty.

  17. Arthur B. Hunter says:

    I support the stand being taken by CICBA in this matter.

    Sir William Blackstone, an eminent 18th century jurist described a man’s right to trial by his peers as "the principal bulwark of our liberties".  In the Cayman Islands, while it is possible for an accused person to elect to be tried by Judge alone, it is my view that in the case of serious crimes the Crown should not have the right to mandate trial by judge alone.

    Obviously the motivation for this drastic shift to advocate a change in the right to trial by jury stems from the recent upsurge in crime, particularly gun related break-ins, murders and assaults but one must seriously question whether it will provide any solution to these crimes.  I share the view that the real solution lies in the ability of the RCIPS to detect and investigate these crimes and to present to the Courts (courtesy of the Legal Department) properly prepared cases, not in the dispensing of the right to trial by jury. To quote the words of the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association in the U.K. "some principles of justice are beyond price, trial by your peers is one of them."

    • Anonymous says:

      Quoting English jurists – however eminent – and likening our situation in this tiny interrelated place to large jurisdictions where the accused has no idea who the jurors are or where they live, makes no sense Mr Hunter.Yes, the Police and the Legal Dept are pretty useless but even if they were not, there would still be a problem.

      • anonymous says:

        16:34

        You’re missing the point.

        Whether we have trial by jury or not.

        Point made is this:

        THE WHOLE POPULATION OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS SHOULD NOT HAVE THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS TAKEN AWAY BY THE REMOVAL OF A RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL.

        Its not my problem that a criminal is terrorizing the country. But is my damn business and my constitutional right to a trial by jury.,

        Why throw all that away because the Premier wants to control you along with the criminals?

        Are you crazy?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is amazing how our people are so easily brainwashed to accept the erosion of the important foundations upon which a democratic society has to be built or else it eventually becomes just another oppressive regime.

      There is a long hard fought history to the development of our legal system including trial by jury. 
      Those in power inevitably want to take away checks on their power to rule over their subjects, while rewarding their subservient Knights from time to time with the spoils. The erosion of good legal and court systems are but one way to do that. 
      A quick study of the erosion and corruption of legal systems in Africa and other dictatorial regimes shows how the people suffer while the leaders live lavishly.
      Our people are ignoring the reasons why the upsurge in crime, we have become voluntarily blind and deaf.
      Remove all jury trials, disband the Justice of the Peace system, go to all courts being closed to the public, employ judges on six (6) months renewable contracts (if they do the wishes of Government), change laws to allow government to do what it wants on all matters and not be subject to laws governing our society in general. 
      Then arm the constituency enforcers who ensure the most votes (and in our voting system this can be “audited”). 
      Do this and many will buy one way tickets like occurred in Jamaica, on the other hand a growing number seem to prefer that system so maybe most will stay, but only until it bites them.
      People do not allow them to remove trial by jury from our legal system.

      William H. Adam

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed.  And remember if this is approved it will only be the thin side of the wedge. Wait and see what other types of cases will be added to the list.

    • Anonymous says:

      When crime increases, (as it has here) it is only a natural response for there to be increased pressure on all arms of the system (law enforcement , prosecution and judicial) to get to grips with the problem as public pressure mounts. But there is also potential danger for collusion and corruption to take hold.

      We need to be careful that we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater in our zeal to deal with criminals.

      A fair trial should never be compromized in any way.

       

       

  18. Anonymous says:

    Where are the defense attorney’s outcrys at witness intimidation? Certainly they want justice as well as does the prosecution. In such a small island jury pool intimidation has been a huge problem and certainly the defense attorneys agree that steps need to be taken…

  19. Anonymous says:

    There will still be work for the legal teams, whether defendants are tried by judge alone or by jury.  I think the points raised about not going to the juries, due to scaring tactics, is a valid one.  The main reason is that we do not have a representative jury pool here, just as we don’t have a representative voting body, from which the jury pool is drawn.  As a long term resident, now Caymanian, I do not feel that the current jury pool is a ‘body of my peers’, and I wouldn’t want to be held in judgment by them should I ever commit a crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sure this is what you meant to say?

      "I do not feel that the current jury pool is a ‘body of my peers’, and I wouldn’t want to be held in judgment by them should I ever commit a crime."

      It seems to me that your best bet after commiting a crime is to be judged by a jury, as they rarely seem to take any facts into consideration. Although based on them usually going against the evidence presented, you should be scared if you are every charged with a crime that you did NOT commit.

      If a jury is truly a ‘body of our peers’ then its hard to see why they shouldn’t be getting some "peeps" from Northward to sit in on some of these trials.

    • Anonymous says:

      Inalienable Right – this is what a Trial By Jury should be!

       
      As a preface, this thread is principally based on the content and context of Anonymous’ Thread posted on Wednesday the 14th day of July 2010 at 13:05. – There will still be work for

       
      I am frankly, disgusted and utterly outraged to read that as a “New Caymanian” your opinion of its people are so low that you have no real need for them! It is this type of arrogant, bigoted personality that is certainly a contributing factor to the upsurge in violent and aggressive crimes unfortunately being experienced on the big isle of Grand Cayman.
       
      It would be reasonable to deduce from your posting that you are somewhat educated as a result more than likely in a position of authority in your professional life. It would be further reasonable to deduce that due to your bigoted racial segregation character you will be inclined not to offer a “Generational Caymanian” an economic opportunity to better their lives and by extension that of their family with a job and or if they work with you, a promotion. This is further corroborated by your statement “I do not feel that the current jury pool (predominately Generational Caymanians/the electorate) is a ‘body of my peers’, and I wouldn’t want to be held in judgment by them should I ever commit a crime”.
       
      Your bare and disgusting partiality to the apartheid like segregation modus operandi within these shores has unfortunately taken root and is sadly shared by many of your fellow New Caymanians. By all accounts this new order is being nurtured extremely well. As a result due to your self-righteous, bigoted and shortsighted character you have failed to realize that not only will your social and economic segregation and or elimination agenda cause great harm to the Generational Caymanian’s future but it will adversely affect that of your child or children’s as well in their new found homeland.
       
      I say that to say this; every time you (meant in the plural sense) step either on the forehead and or neck of a Generational Caymanian trying to break through the proverbial glass ceiling, their immediate anger and sense of wrongful rejection is typically never witnessed by you. However unfortunately this sense of resentment is and in some cases unwittingly passed down to their children. This passive disposition of the Generational Caymanian is fleeting with each generation that unfortunately has to endure undue economic and social segregation by individuals like you.
       
      Your apartheid like mindset and agenda have perpetuated an attitude of “nothing to lose because I can’t achieve it anyway” in an entire generation. Failure to mitigate and or curtail this apartheid like agenda within your increasing numbers will reasonably be passed down to the immediate generation following this current young one committing these aggressive and violent crimes. This type of aggression is now being witnessed for the first time in such a manner, frequency and magnitude that the powers that be have placed up for discussion and consideration the removal of my right and that of any individual to a Trial by Jury. This right in my opinion should be an inalienable right that mitigates corruption perpetuated from the most high in political office. Less we forget The Great Inquisition.
       
      Based on your thread and unfortunately others espousing similar views coupled with their significant thumbs up approval numbers clearly communicates that there is utter distain for Generational Caymanians by a fair number of New Caymanians. In essence, what is being clearly and unambiguously communicated is that all Generational Caymanians are inept, and corrupt insofar that they cannot reasonably affect the rule of Law in any way whatsoever. Hence the reason the Cayman Islands are experiencing the spate of aggressive crimes. As a result their Right to a Trial by Jury must be taken away!
       
      Consequently in the very near future Generational Caymanians will be found guilty by New Caymanians on juries not based on the alleged crime committed but due their race and ethnicity; a method of the apartheid approach to control.
       
      In closing, it cannot be forgotten that freedom isn’t a gift that is gained once and kept forever, but rather you arrive to it after long and hard work and it should be regained again and again.   
  20. Florence Goring-Nozza says:

    Cayman Islands Attorneys and the people of the Cayman Islands, have a right to vehemently oppose the recent proposal by the Cayman Islands Government; to remove the right of an accused person in the case of fire arms to be tried by jury. None of this increases confidence in the Court Prosecution Systems. The significance of this human right should be upheld. For the Cayman Islands Government to make a narrow minded decision to do otherwise will orchestrate a series of trials of this nature that offends the very basis of Cayman Islands justice. It is pure fantasy for the government to claim that a fire arms trial among others can go ahead without a jury to ensure justice will be done. What utter nonsense. For those who care about the justice in the courts, the proceedings under any Judge may comply to a normal understanding of justice in Tim Buck Too, but not in a democratic society like the Cayman Islands. As a final word to the Cayman Islands Government, I would like to point out that jury trial was a fundamental right whose origins stretched back 800 years. It represents the value that society places on the judgment of peers when citizens are accused of serious crime. Some values in a democratic society are beyond price. We would not sanction a restriction of the right to vote because elections were too expensive, nor should we remove the right to jury trial simply on the grounds of scare tactics when someone would be threatened. Anonymous threats to a jury member may not be capable of scrutiny. This should be of much concern to everyone as this is just the beginning of a process that can affect each an every citizen and resident in this jurisdiction and that the government is proposing to take away that right which is a defense of our freedom.

    Shame on any member of our parliament who took part in this plan to erode our rights and freedoms in the name of scare tactics that may not even be verifiable.

  21. Anonymous says:

    In my view the current government has so far not done nearly enough to get the thugs off the streets and to keep them off the streets. This proposed legislation appears to be sensible given the threats to our community and one of the few sensible pieces of legislation that I have seen come forward in a long while. .

    In the cases of violent thugs who see nothing wrong with threatening jurors and their families in order to corrupt the jury system, there is really no option to judge only trials. Where intimidation of jurors is a significant risk then justice is at risk. I therefore fully approve of the proposed changes and I urge the government to go ahead with them.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to mention that a lot of people do not register as voters because they are afraid of being called as jurors. Not only are they afraid of intimidation but the trials are for ever being put off and delayed to suit the Judges and Lawyers private schedules so being are juror is very disruptive and boring.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: “violent thugs who see nothing wrong with threatening jurors and their families…”

      It’s not what “violent thugs” (criminals) think or do, but instead it’s what the police and residents fail to do, be protected.  Removing the right to a jury of our peers is wrong and it makes us all least safe, because rights help to shield residents from the abuses of a government, including the police.

  22. Anonymous says:

    As an ordinary Caymanian, I appreciate the arguments that the criminal defense bar is raising. However, the "right" to a jury trial must be balanced against the "right" of the community to live without the threat of violent criminals committing crimes with impunity as they know that they can intimidate their way out of any punishment.

    Judge only trials are already used in Cayman with the agreement of the accused and they are now being used in other Commonwealth jurisdictions as well. In the United Kingdom the option of a jury trial may be removed in cases which there is a risk that the jury may bebiased or intimidated.

    After reading this CNS article, I decided to Google the subject in order to understand the issue more and found this recent UK article to be informative and well balanced.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/may/21/judge-only-trials-option

    Based on what I have seen in this community in relation to people who are afraid to report crimes and terrified of being called as jurors and also based on what I have read so far, I support the proposed changes in the law. I would much rather have a judge try cases where there is a risk that jurors might be intimidated into letting violent criminals walk our streets. 

  23. Legal Beagle says:

    The only law reforms that make any difference are ones that are opposed by defence lawyers.

    • anonymous says:

      There’s no need to remove the trial by jury in this case. That has not been the problem in solving crime in this jurisdiction.

      None of the institutions responsible for enforcement, prosecution or jury has   been performing satisfactory.

      So why are we placing all the burden on the Judge now?

      Is the Judge suddenly  expected to be God, wear all hats, whether they fit or not, to play the role of police, prosecutor, lawyer, judge and jury?  Slumber on, it won’t work, if this teethless policy is implemented then the threats may begin against the judge, he’s an easier target than 12 jurors!

       

  24. My2cents says:

    Sorry I agree with the Police on this one. Jury intimdation is a serious problem in these cases and the guilty have gone free because of it.

    I think the CICDBA underestimate how strongly the public feel about the terrible gun crimes we have seen in the last year or two.