Criminal Courts Review

Lord Justice Auld, formerly chairman of the Criminal Courts Review, commissioned by the heads of the judiciary, legislature and executive for the report on the current Criminal Justice System, specifically does it meet the requirements of delivering justice in accordance with the guidelines which in turn cause public confidence in the Rule of Law. He has prepared a list of recommendations on what reform should take place and where the legal system should go. The recommendation's by Auld points to a new Criminal Justice Board to replace the existing boards, currently the Strategic Planning and Trial Issue Groups and IBIS.

The role each sub – part plays is to ensure that the system is effective to the people it is being delivered to, also that the relevant departments are up – to – date with I. T. This will allow codification of the law under one body, and will be aided by a secretariat, thus it will have an easier route to the government departments. The unification of the criminal courts, where cases will go up three tiers before any case can be appealed or sent to the High court. Allocating magistrates to ensure they are representative of the different ethnic cultures in the area and 'their expertise are relevant in the district they are sent to'1.

This has been applied to jury selection also. The move towards a standard code of offences for less serious crime, such as Road Traffic, under Schedule 3, Paragraph 3. To enable codification there must be an electronic means of case management which will allow all agencies to see a copy of the case, as opposed to the current system of cases being managed via traditional means.. The System before Auld. The criminal justice system relies on cases and policy decisions, regarding its flexibility. The Rule of Law is a basic principle of the legal system, According to A. V. Dicey,

"The rule of law has three elements. First, that there should be no sanctions without breach, that one law should govern both state officials and ordinary citizens. Thirdly, that the rights of the individual were not secured by a written constitution, but by the decisions of judges in ordinary law". The first element is contained in the CJS White Paper2 which stated what Auld was commissioned to find out. That was it, 'delivering justice fairly'. During the period Margaret Thatcher was in power, she laid down her 'iron fist', which was a lot of plans that led to a lot of shuffling inside public services.

The Government's are pragmatists, or being proactive in their view to satisfying objectives, however the Thatcher years were known to have caused a lot of controversy. Unlike the law which goes in the direction of the occurrences prior. Prior to Auld's Review the Government's last White Paper in 19903, which was investigated into by Lord Justice Woolf, sought to address in making the system more accessible and accountable. At the time there was a problem of crime and the incapacity of criminal justice policy and practice to resolve it.

In 1992, the White Paper was published and its objective was for cost efficiency and demonstrable service effectiveness, in relation to the criminal courts. The Strategic Planning group, with the assistance of tax income and its own income generation will implement the necessary recommendations to the courts. The entry – level courts would be Magistrates' and Crown court. Analysis of Auld's and others' recommendations: I will review Auld's proposals on recommendations for the juries, a new criminal justice board and a unified criminal court. JURIES: There are four points to consider: 1. Juries should be more widely represented

2. Allow the trial judge and Court of Appeal to examine alleged improprieties in the jury room, in connection with the proceedings. 3. Defendant to be not allowed to ask for a trial with a jury instead of just the judge alone. 4. To require a judge, not a jury, to determine the issue of fitness to plead. In order for a jury to be more represented Auld wants there to be three people from ethnic backgrounds to sit in each jury, if this balance is not achieved the case must be put forward to allow for the balance to be redressed or in the case of a single tier court the judge can decide if another venue will be appropriate.

The Bar Council response "Juries need to be more representative of society…. Rules to make it harder to escape the responsibility. " Juries are picked on a random basis. Judges say to be tried by a jury is to have the best trial anywhere in the World. To have an agenda for juries is not sustainable. It is thought that the 'twelve jurors have a breadth of experience'4. This proposal may only be backed by a handful of judges, who may not be convinced that in certain cases the jury may be over represented by one type of nationality.

To be tried by twelve people who have different experiences as well as be from different cultures would make the law accepted and show that it is not just a constitutional right, but that these people will meet briefly and give a good immediate reaction, their only responsibility is to be a normal human being.. To allow the trial judge to cross – examine the jury prior to giving a verdict would not be possible as it is incompatible with Contempt of Court Act 1981, 5 the instrument which allows the Court of Appeal the rights to investigate any procedural improprieties in the jury's verdict.

This may cause impartiality of the jury to be lost.. In relation to point 3: 6"The existing right to elect trial by jury is so long established in our criminal justice system and valued so highly that its total abrogation requires very compelling reasons. We doubt that such a radical change would be sufficiently acceptable to public and professional opinion to enable it to be implemented. It would undermine the trust and support the criminal justice system at present commands among the general public" H. M. S. O. (1975)

At present it is possible for a jury not to be present when the case in hand has a long custodial sentence attached, CPIA 1996 c. 25 s. 28. Due to the nature of either – way offences, I think the option for mode of trial is a humane choice being allowed. If the case relies on information that is likely to cause distress. i. e. In relation to fraudulent and unethical cases. The Bar Council believe that in many cases there is a need for the defendant to beat the system, that this is a good way of doing it. It depends upon the type of person, whether they are good or bad in nature and the type of grave offence committed.

The 1993 James Committee report believes that removing the defendants right on mode of trial would lead to, a more rational distribution of cases from higher and lower court. There seems to be disrepute in the ability for the magistrates to give shorter sentences and not doing so. "…. It would be quite unacceptable for the courts to discriminate in this way. It would offend against the principle of equality before the law if particular classes of people, or people of some standing in the community, were able, in effect to choose their tribunal, while others were denied that choice".

James Report.. The final point regarding requires the judge to instigate the fitness to plead, innocent or guilty, should be left to the judge, would enable the case to be judged with a specialist knowledge. "There is evidence that people who know they will get a custodial sentence give a fake plea in order to waste the courts time. By getting the plea from the start will ensure that 'cracked cases' are kept to a minimum, where there are procedural improprieties in the turning up of experts and witnesses".