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Criminal Jury Research Piece

Criminal Jury Research Piece

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Published by Nadine Brennan

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Published by: Nadine Brennan on Dec 02, 2010
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Name:
Nadine Karin Brennan
Student ID:
07101209
Subject:
LW330 (1. Topic of own choice)
Lecturer:
Mr. Conor Hanly
Assignment:
LW288- 2
nd
LL.B. Assignment
Title:
The Special Criminal Court and the jury in Irish Criminaltrials: an analysis
Word Count:
4,873
No. of Pages:
24 (inclusive)
Date:
12
th
March 2009
Introduction
The small and largely rural nature of this jurisdiction continues to poseproblems of jury representativeness and impartiality.
1
The jury has attracted
1
Quinn, ‘Jury trial in the Republic of Ireland’,
 Révue Internationale de droit penal 2001
, ½ (vol. 72)197-214, para. 37 available at http://www.cairn.info/article_p.php?ID_ARTICLE=RIDP_721_0197
1
 
much academic commentary, criticism and support. This essay will look andthe advantages and disadvantages of including the jury in criminal trials, inparticular in the context of the Special Criminal court.It is beyond the scope of this essay to analyse the circumstances leading tothe creation of the Special Criminal Court. However, justification for itscontinued existence and, consequently that of the non- jury criminal trial willbe drawn from a wide range of sources which will illustrate the reasoningbehind ‘non-political’ type offences being tried in this court.Sources will also show that comparison to other jurisdictions in relation todeliberation in jury trials is both useful and enlightening. The greatestimpediment to making an absolute case in favour of or against the jury is thelack of objective research available on the subject. This essay will attempt toweigh up the respective arguments and make specific recommendations for review and improvement of this area of the criminal justice system.
Overview and purpose of the Special Criminal Court
2
Other than criminal cases before the district court and other special tribunals,the S.C.C. is the only exception to the right to trial by jury in Ireland: thereasons for which are explored below. Its existence and use is protected byconstitutional provision but is a source of controversy which made its wayinto the European forum. However, it would appear that it is here to stay;there has been no indication that this court is likely to be abandoned. Thelegality of making provision for the S.C.C was challenged and subsequentlyupheld in
The State (Ryan) v. Lennon [1935] IR 170.
Its primary function is tosecure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public
2
Hereafter referred to as the S.C.C.
2
 
peace and order 
3
where ordinary courts, and by inference, trial by jury, aredeemed inadequate.
4
The Report of the Committee to review the Offencesagainst the State act, 1939-1998 and related matters
5
acknowledged thatalthough it is commonly believed that the original and only reason for thecreation and continued existence of this court related to the troubles inNorthern Ireland, this was never expressly stated.
6
Article 6 of the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights demands that everyone be entitled to trial byan ‘independent and impartial tribunal established by law: nothing heretoforehas been shown to prove that the existence and function of the S.C.Ccontravenes this. In
Sander 
the European Court of Human Rights stressedthat ‘tribunal, including a jury, must be impartial, so the issue of jury bias isone of fundamental importance and can directly impede a defendant’s rightto a fair trial.
8
In this instance, removing the jury removes possible bias whichcan as likely arise from fear and intimidation as from prejudice.In 1939 the Minister at the time made it clear that the cases to be dealt withby the S.C.C were ‘offences that relate to armed intimidation and to violentmeans.’
9
Between 1939 and 1946 the S.C.C handled a range of offences,from black marketeering to murder 
, during this period the largest number of convictions related to black market trading
, which are in essence economicoffences but it would appear that they nonetheless were offences thatthreatened the maintenance of public order 
, in itself a form of intimidation
3
 
 Bunreacht na hEireann
1937, art. 38.3.1
4
ibid.
5
Hereafter referred to as Offences against the State Review Committee
6
ibid., para 9.31
7
Sander v. U.K (2001) 31 EHRR 44
8
Davis,
The History and Development of the Special Criminal Court,
1922-2005, page 22
9
Dáil Eireann,
 Parliamentary debates,
2 March 1939, vol. 74, col. 1290
10
Kelly,
 Fundamental rights in the Irish law and Constitution
(2
nd
ed., Dublin 1967) p.278
11
Davis, op. cit., p.p. 90-91
12
In times of crisis, the equitable distribution of scarce resources can be an important element in themaintenance of public order, ibid.,
3

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