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The Exclusion of the Clergy from Criminal Trial Juries: An Historical Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 July 2008

Rosemary Pattenden
Affiliation:
Professor of Law, University of East Anglia

Extract

Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974 provides that ‘[a] man in holy orders; a regular minister of any religious denomination [and] [a] vowed member of any religious order living in a monastery, convent or other religious community’ is ineligible to serve on a criminal (and also a civil) jury. This has been the law since 1972. For the remainder of this century members of the clergy have been eligible, but not compellable, jurors. In practice they did not serve. The change effected in 1972 is a reversion to the position which probably prevailed in the Middle Ages. Aside from the occasional official report, the liability of religious functionaries to serve on juries in criminal trials has been rarely written about. The last time it happened was in 1882. The object of this article is to fill the lacuna by tracing the history of the clergy's ineligibility for jury service in criminal trials and the reasons for it.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Ecclesiastical Law Society 1999

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115 Clause 20.

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127 The last attempt at reform was on 22 April 1874. The Bill (no 18) was withdrawn on 30 July 1874.

128 (1913) Cd 6817.

129 Para 270.

130 For full details, see Memorandum by the Home Office to the Departmental Committee on the Law and Practice Relating to Jury, Service (1963). p 13.Google Scholar See also Report of the Departmental Committee on Jury Service (1965) (Cmnd 2627).Google Scholar para 89. Disputes were settled by a magistrates' court: Juries Act 1922 (12 & 13 Geo5. c 11). s 1(5).

131 Juries Act 1922. s 2(2). The argument that this provision implied eligibility is weakened by the fact that those disqualified by a criminal conviction (Juries Act 1870. s 10) had also to serve if their name appeared in the jurors book: Rv Kelly [1950] 2 KB 164 at 173.Google Scholar [1950] 1 All ER 806at810.(1950) 34 Cr App Rep 95at104. CCA.

132 Juries Act 1922. s 8(1). (2)(b).

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135 (1965) Cmnd 2627.

136 Ibid., para 89.

137 Ibid., para 101.

138 Ibid., para 120.

139 The one change it made was to remove the italicised words in the following sentence: ‘[a] vowed member of any religious order (whether of men or of women ) living in a monastery, convent or other religious community’.

140 (1993) Cm 2263. para 27. See also recommendation no 216.

141 See the Juries Act 1974. s 9. which allows a person to apply for ‘good reason’ to be excused jury service. and Sch 1. Pt III (amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. s 42). which gives ‘A practising member of a religious society or order the tenets or beliefs of which are incompatible with jury service’ automatic exemption from jury service. Of itself religious belief is not a ‘good reason’ for the purposes of s 9: it may be a ‘good reason’ if the applicant's religious beliefs prevent him from performing his duty as a juror properly: R v Guildford Crown Court, ex parte Sklerfin [1990] 1 QB 683 at 695.Google Scholar [1989] 3 All ER 7 at 10. DC.

142 Lord Chancellor's Department. Home Office. Law Officer's Department. June 1996. p 47.Google Scholar

143 Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1980 (c 55). s 1(2). Sch 1. Pt III. Group E.

144 These include the Baptist Union of Great Britain. the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Congregational Federation. Reform and Liberal Rabbis would also like the option to serve on juries. On the other hand, the Codex luris Canonici 1983. canon 289. para 2. requires a Roman Catholic bishop, priest or deacon to decline jury service whenever this is possible.

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