05 April 2006

Old Bailey 1993 spy trial summing up

The Summing Up and final stage of the Michael John Smith spy trial in 1993, held at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), has been published at the Cryptome website here.

As in many UK trials, the judge is allowed to be selective in drawing the jury’s attention to those points he believes the jury should consider when coming to their verdicts. There have been arguments about whether this is a fair way to conduct the final stage of a trial, as it is possible for a jury to pay more attention to the judge’s account of the evidence than what the actual witnesses may have said from the witness box. Mr Justice Blofeld did stress the importance of certain evidence, but in some cases completely omitted to mention other evidence.

There is always the danger that a summing up will sway the jury towards the opinions of the judge himself, rather than for the jury to make their own minds up from listening to the Prosecution and the Defence arguments. I believe in my case that Mr Justice Blofeld favoured the Prosecution case, and this is what comes across in his Summing Up.

3 comments:

  1. Jan van 't Veer4:49 AM

    What can I say. After a long trial, the Judge in my case ordered the Jury to find me guilty as according to the law I dindn't have a defense. After having considered the cases of my co-defendance for two days the Jury came back and asked the Judge if they really had to find me guilty. The answer was the same, so consequently I was found guilty of offences I had not committed and the Jury knew it.
    Any one like to comment on that one? Incidently I was sentenced to 20 years!

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  2. Yes Jan, it is indeed strange the degree of power these judges have. We are told we will be tried by a jury of our equals, but then one old guy can take control and tell the jury what to do.

    In many cases the jury appears to have more common sense than the judge, and it is wrong the judge can unfairly determine the result of the trial, especially when the defendant faces a long sentence such as you did.

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  3. I agree, the judge certainly shouldnt be ordering the jury around like children.

    I also think the judge trying to direct the jury to important points sounds wrong as well

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