The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

Law Reform Index

Unanimous Jury Verdicts

The Dominion Post
September 9 2004

'Rogue juror' tells of pressure to vote guilty

A man who caused a hung jury in a rape trial because he believed the accused was innocent has spoken out against plans to end unanimous verdicts.

Gordon Ansley told Parliament's law and order committee he had been a so-called "rogue juror", the one of 12 who held out for a not-guilty verdict.

At present, criminal verdicts must be unanimous, but the committee is considering a move to majority verdicts as low as 10 to two after concern at the rise in hung juries. The Law Commission has linked the increase to rogue jurors, who refuse to take part in deliberations or to change their position in the face of overwhelming arguments.

Because of laws forbidding the discussion of jury deliberations, Mr Ansley did not give details of his case. However, he said he was convinced the evidence proved the man was innocent and he refused to agree with a guilty verdict. He later learned the man had been convicted at an earlier trial, but a retrial was ordered on appeal.

A third trial was held after the hung jury, and the man was convicted and jailed. An appeal for a pardon failed.

Mr Ansley said there was a range of pressures on jurors, and two people on his jury had changed their votes from "not guilty" to "guilty" because they had not been able to smoke during the case.

"The last person to leave my side in this debacle did not do so because he suddenly became convinced of the defendant's guilt. Rather, around 5pm, over seven hours after we had entered the courthouse, he described himself to me as being a lump of jelly and that he had to get out of there," he said in his submission.

A better solution would be special panels that could interview dissenting jurors to see why they voted the way they did, he said.