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Attack of the Smack: The UK Edition

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |

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Thanks to a certain Dowager Countess, I’ve been guaranteed a certain amount of British drama and snark every week. With Downton on hiatus—and also in the doghouse as far as I’m concerned for how season 3 ended—I thought that I was going to have to do without. Last week proved me wrong. The internet exploded on Tuesday with the news that award-winning author Hilary Mantel had dared insult Kate Middleton. According to many news sources and the Prime Minster, such a thing is a faux pas to the nth degree.  Mantel’s lecture has since been reluctantly pardoned when the comments about Kate were put into context. Between this and the Adele drama last year, it appears that there’s a smack down on smack talk when it comes to a select few British ladies.

Know who doesn’t make the list? Jury members. Just as the Mantel/Middleton drama was dying down, headlines questioned whether juries in UK were mentally deficient. The context? The jury in a high profile case asked the judge ten questions which were deemed “quite unusual.” How unusual, you ask. Well it ranges from the definition of reasonable doubt to “Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it either from the prosecution or defence?” Oh my. The judge said the jury had a “fundamental deficit in understanding” and dismissed them.

Juries have been a concern for a while across the pond. Back in 1994 an appellate court ordered a retrial for a man accused of double murder because four members of the jury consulted an Ouija board at the hotel before the verdict was delivered. The Ministry of Justice put together a report in 2010 which found that there was no reason to believe that juries were becoming any less intelligent. This week a new jury is taking on the case.  No word on how the original jury feels about their ouster, but I would think the sentiment would be similar to the Sesame Street interpretation of a certain Henry Fonda classic.

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