Thursday, June 08, 2006

The jury is out

The jury has retired in the Selwyn sedition case.

Juries have historically been "unreliable" in sedition cases - which is why most prosecutions were carried out under the War Regulations Continuance Act 1920, which allowed summary conviction by a magistrate. We just have to hope that this jury follows the trend...


I'm a little surprised that Selwyn sought a jury trial for this case - I'd have said his better bet (if he wants to make a stand against the idea of a sedition law) would have been a judge-alone trial - he might be more likely to lose at first instance, but an appeal in the event of a loss would probably have greater prospects of success.

Whilst a jury acquittal might provide a reason for police not to bring sedition charges again, such a decision (which might merely be on the facts of the case) isn't nearly as powerful clearly setting out how the law ought to be applied bearing in mind BORA free speech guarantees (Hopkinson springs to mind as an exemplar - the police will almost certainly never again charge someone for flag burning).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/08/2006 02:38:00 PM