This page last updated
Jan 31 2005 -
2004-1113 - Dominion Post -
Juror too late to change her mind
A distraught juror rang Napier District Court the morning after
finding a man guilty of rape, asking if she could change her mind, the Court of
Appeal has been told. Her belated misgivings did not sway the court. In a
second conversation with the district court employee, the juror said she
thought some jurors had made a hasty decision on the rape charge to "get
out of the place" after considering the case till midnight.
2004-1025 - Evening
Standard - Common sense and the law
Editorial - Rumblings over planned moves to limit the right to trial by jury,
bring in majority verdicts in place of unanimous decisions and change the
rule against double jeopardy, are showing little sign of going away, judging
by what a leading crimimal lawyer had to say to the parliamentary committee
which is considering the Criminal Procedure Bill. QC Donald Stevens joined
the Law Society and other high-profile lawyers in opposing the changes,
hailed by Justice Minister Phil Goff as together making up one of the most
important recent pieces of legislation on criminal procedures. He's right
about that, if the vigorous reactions engendered by the proposals are
anything to go by. Yet the Greens are the only political
party to oppose the bill.
2004-0909 - Dominion Post -
'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.
2004-0909 - Dominion Post -
Call to ban police from vetting jurors
Martin Kay - Police should be banned from using the Wanganui Computer to vet
potential jurors in trials, MPs considering a bill that radically
transforms the criminal justice system have been told. Law Society criminal
law committee member Greg King told Parliament's law and order committee that
police regularly checked the criminal backgrounds of jury panels before
trials and passed the information to prosecutors.
2004-0629 - Evening
Standard - Justice changes need hard look
- It seems that proposed wide-ranging changes to the
system of trial by jury, which were flagged by Justice Minister Phil Goff
some months ago, are at least in some respects deeply controversial, as the
minister himself has said he expects them to be. It appears at least two of
the city's more seasoned defence lawyers will be beating a path to the door
of the select committee which will be hearing what people think about the
2004-0626 - The Press - Chch legal
experts find little joy in law reforms
Amanda Warren - Christchurch lawyers have
panned Government moves to reform the criminal justice
system. The Criminal Procedures Bill, introduced to Parliament this week,
proposes the abandonment of unanimous jury verdicts in favour of 11-1
verdicts; allowing prosecutors to opt out of jury hearings if there is
evidence of juror intimidation; and changing double-jeopardy rules to allow a
retrial if compelling new evidence comes to light. However, Christchurch
lawyers argue many of the proposed changes are unnecessary.
2004-0623 - The Press - Accused
may forfeit right to jury trial
Tracy Watkins - Accused criminals could be stripped of their right to a trial
by their peers if there are fears of juries being
intimidated. The measure is in legislation introducing sweeping reforms of
the jury system, including the abandonment of unanimous jury verdicts in
favour of an 11-1 verdict.
2004-0623 - Evening
Standard - Local lawyers unimpressed with looming changes
David Eames - Proposed sweeping changes to the system of trial by jury have
left two senior Palmerston North lawyers with serious misgivings. The
Criminal Proceedings Bill, introduced to Parliament
yesterday and due for a first reading next week, calls for the abolition of
unanimous jury verdicts, changes to the rules governing depositions hearings,
changes to jury-selection procedures, and a revamp of the double-jeopardy law.
2004-0623 - Dominion Post -
Right to jury trial restricted in bill
Tracy Watkins - Accused criminals could lose their right to a trial by their
peers if there are fears of juries being intimidated. The measure is in
government legislation introducing sweeping reforms of the jury
system, including the abandonment of unanimous jury verdicts in favour of an
11-1 verdict. Parliament will vote on it for the first time next week.
2004-0623 - Dominion
Post - Majority verdict bill introduced
Tracy Watkins - Unanimous jury verdicts could be abandoned next year after
the Government's introduction of legislation that overhauls the jury trial
system. The legislation does away with the long-established need for a
unanimous verdict from all 12 jurors before anyone can be
convicted of a crime. It says an 11-1 verdict is enough.
2004-0226 - Dominion
Post - Timely spotlight on jury duty
Robyn McLean - As New Zealand debates the abolition of unanimous verdicts for
jury trials, a dozen comedians bring a judicial classic to the International
Festival stage. Robyn McLean reports. It's a serious undertaking for 12
comedians, but Owen O'Neill was confident they could do it. He
says the idea to produce a play of 12 Angry Men came after he had watched the
film version starring Henry Fonda.
2004-0131 - Waikato Times -
Steve Hoefsloot - Alarm bells should ring over Phil Goff's proposed change
from unanimous verdicts to majority verdicts for jury trials. The present
system predates the Magna Carta and prevailed in spite of
wars and dictatorships, revolutions and colonisations. It stood as a bastion
against the powers of kings, presidents, governors and states. Now comes the New Zealand
justice minister, peeved that verdicts do not always go the prosecutor's way,
blaming it on rogue jurors, gangs and organised crime intimidation, and
wanting to change the system to an 11-1 verdict.
2004-0127 - NZ Herald - Jury
majority decision long overdue
- It speaks volumes for our standards of criminal justice that it is taking
so long to dispense with the principle that jury verdicts
should be unanimous. It took six years of research on jury trials before the
Law Commission recommended that majority verdicts of 11-1 should be
permitted. The commission's report came in 2001 and in August that year
Justice Minister Phil Goff announced legislation was imminent. Last week he
made the same announcement. He says he will introduce a bill this year.
2004-0127 - Daily News -
Defendants' rights balanced against those of the public
- Lawyers and cynics argue that the Government's push towards majority jury
verdicts is more about saving money than improving the delivery of justice.
However, one needs to be only mildly cynical to equally suggest that the
lawyers' concern is more about a potential cut in court work than
maintaining the quality of justice. The Government's advisory group, the Law
Commission, says 13% of High Court cases and around 8% of District Court
hearings result in hung juries -- meaning the 12 jurors cannot reach the
total agreement required for conviction, and give up the argument.
2004-0126 - Waikato Times -
Jury change won't guarantee justice
- Changes to the jury system allowing majority verdicts would seem to be the
ideal answer to a rise in the number of hung juries. When a
jury can't make up its mind over the guilt or innocence of an accused person
it is a nuisance to everyone. And huge expense when even a minor trial can
involve judge, lawyers and witnesses over a considerable period. If the whole
procedure has to be repeated because one or more jurors aren't able to make a
decision then it can seem to be a shocking waste of money. It also slows the
wheels of justice for everyone else.
2004-0126 - Timaru Herald -
Juries not perfect
Ediorial - If the jury system was perfect, there would be no
need for Justice Minister Phil Goff's proposal to allow majority decisions.
The juries would always get the verdict right, and they would be unanimous in
their view without any pressure being applied from inside or outside the jury
room. The move stems from a Law Commission report which found 13 per cent of
jury trials in 2000 resulted in a hung jury. This was a high proportion and
not necessarily reflective of complex cases where it was difficult to accept
one set of evidence over another.
2004-0124 - Evening
Standard - Juries must be safeguarded
- It is understandable, if less than surprising, that widespread misgivings
have been expressed over the Government's plans to change our
centuries-old jury system and institute majority verdicts in place of
unanimous decisions. Indeed, one defence lawyer went so far as to say that
allowing majority verdicts could dangerously undermine public confidence in
our justice system. She suggested that rather than change to majority
verdicts, other ways be looked at to overhaul the system because of public
disquiet over so many verdicts -- people found guilty but doubts persisting
and people found not guilty when there is strong evidence that they were.
2004-0123 - The Press - A sensible
- The proposal announced by the Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, to allow
majority verdicts in criminal trials is a sensible one. They have been used
for decades in other jurisdictions without problems and
they should help to reduce an unacceptably high level of hung juries.
2004-0122 - The Press -
National, ACT back jury trial changes
Colin Espiner - Widespread political support for majority jury verdicts
should see a change to a fundamental part of the justice system this year. The
Government has reintroduced plans to scrap unanimous jury verdicts in favour
of an 11-1 majority and to allow trial by judge alone in some long or complex
cases. The move comes after Labour backed off the move in 2001, following
opposition from the legal community.
2004-0122 - One News - Jury trial
Unanimous jury decisions may become a thing of the past under a new law to be
introduced by the Justice Minister. Goff says it is intended to reduce the
high number of hung juries and to prevent so-called rogue jurors unduly
influencing a verdict. Under the new legislation, juries could be removed
from trials altogether if the case is considered too complex for people to
2004-0122 - NZ Herald - Majority
rules in jury law change
by Helen Tunnah - A rogue or sole juror will not be able to hold out against
a person being convicted of a crime under jury law changes being introduced
next year. The new law will scrap the centuries-old tradition
that all 12 jurors must agree on a verdict. Instead, an 11-1 vote will be
allowed. Justice Minister Phil Goff says the change will reduce the growing
number of hung juries and stop organised crime and gangs intimidating jurors.