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IPFS News Link • Scotland

Juryless Trials Are a Naked Power Grab and a Serious Threat to Liberty

• by Harrison Griffiths

Since the ratification of the Magna Carta in 1215, the right of accused people to be tried by their peers has been an essential protection against government overreach in English Common Law. That function was so vital that denial of the right to trial by jury was one of the American Revolutionaries' core grievances that led them to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776.

Fast forward to 2023 and the Scottish government will pilot trying certain serious sexual assault cases without a jury. This may be motivated by a sincere desire to get justice for victims. Still, undermining juries only consolidates the power of government ministers and senior judges.

The rationale of the proposal is simple: convictions for sexual assault are low and the Scottish government believes that juries are partly responsible.