‘Fifty quid says you’re back here tonight’ sneered the guard to Alan Lane.
Easy money I thought to myself, especially the way the trial seems to have gone so far. Add to the mix the now clearly compromised Jury trying the defendant, it seemed a dead cert that the defendant was heading for a guilty verdict in the drama which concluded on Friday night.
The drama played over five consecutive nights which proved a rather good idea, to give a sense of the close proximity of presented evidence in a real life criminal trial.
Unfortunately, this was where the reality seems to have ended.
The backdrop to this drama has also had the running theme of the preserving of trial of jury. In episode 4, we are treated to a brief scene of a radio debate where a criminal silk defends the importance of a jury trial. In this offering a fictional parliament votes to abolish the jury system. The QC in question, was actually played by a real life London criminal silk, which was interesting as it gave the arguments he put forward a sense of legitimacy and authority.
Given the performance put forward by this 12 man crew over the series, one can’t help but wonder about the various juries in real life trials. It did at times make for rather uncomfortable viewing at times, some jurors were keen to return a guilty verdict on the basis that it was an inconvenience to their lives.
The aforementioned scenes relating to jury abolition had seemed like a rather disjointed set of scenes and seemed to bear no relevance to the trial we as viewers were a part of.
But when all the well set twists came to fruition one realised how clever the drama was (glaringly unrealistic scenes aside).
The ‘mysterious woman’ who we believed to be the foreman of the previous jury, turned out to be a relative of one the victims. The meetings with the foreman of present jury was actually a clever ruse to plant the idea of contaminated evidence which would manipulate this jury into returning a guilty verdict.
‘Forensic contamination? What about jury contamination?’asked one particularly astute juror. I cheered at this point. When the walls came tumbling down, the jury approached the problems they faced with a steely resolve and sound logic. The joy came when they did their job properly and returned a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
This was when it became clear that the jury was a vital component of justice (not that we needed convincing), but for all the inadequacies, they came full circle in the end.
The drama concluded with a rather poignant scene where it is revealed that the House of Lords rejected the fictional Jury Abolition Bill, meaning the ‘hallowed foundation of justice would remain in place’ (one cannot help but sprinkle in a bit of poetic language at times!).
Where the show lacked realism and procedure it redeemed itself in my opinion purely on the basis that it rejected the notion that juries were inadequate despite any flaws they many have. Giving it serious thought, it must be a surreal experience as a juror, to be separated from the outside world and to only be able to discuss the case with your fellow jurors with the massive responsibility of another person’s liberty in your hands. On that basis and the rather satisfying William Blackstone quote that the show ended on, one hopes that the other errors are ironed out by the time we are next offered a ‘new fresh legal drama.’
BPTC student at City Law School