Friday, 2 September 2011

Not proven

Fantasy Bob regrets that he finds himself having to make reference to the Devil's work again ie Scottish football.  He recognises that this will cause in all 3 of his readers feelings of distress, anger and a general  hopelessness (not unlike the game itself)   FB trusts that his ample forewarning will allow them to take appropriate avoiding action.  He accepts no liability for any losses incurred by his readers should they proceed beyond this point.

But first a word about the law. The Scottish criminal justice system has many unique and celebrated features.  None more so than the availability to Scottish juries of the not proven verdict - first introduced in the mid 18th Century it is known to jurists world wide as the Scottish verdict.  They have not generally seen fit to imitate it.  A jury can find the case proven ie that the Crown as prosecutor has proved that the accused did it, or not proven ie the Crown has not proved it or not guilty ie the accused did not do it.  There is much speculation about the true meaning of the non-proven verdict but it is kindly construed as 'OK son you got away with it but don't do it again.'

Not proven ya *******
The Scottish verdict reared its well formed and beautiful head again this week making a case that was already a cause celebre even more of a cause celebre.  An enraged football supporter was accused of that assaulting Mr Neil Lennon, manager of Celtic FC and a shining beacon of rational argument, causing breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner, running onto the field during the match, running at the away team dug out, shouting, swearing, making a sectarian remark, all to the alarm and annoyance of others and causing further disturbance within the crowd. The charge suggested that the assault and breach of the peace were aggravated by religious prejudice.  

The incident was captured on TV and has been replayed endlessly, reminding us all of Scotland's shame.  Notwithstanding this, while the accused was found guilty of breach of the peace the charge of assault was found not proven to the bemusement of many.  Not having heard all the evidence FB is unable to comment on the wisdom or other of the jury and whatever the merits of the case it shows the potential independent mindedness of the jury system.

But FB thinks that there might be something in this not proven verdict - particularly in the case of LBW.  He therefore invites the East of Scotland Cricket Association to trial this verdict while FB is batting next season.  He has been concerned about the quality of evidence presented to umpires by prosecuting bowlers in recent seasons and thinks a higher standard of proof might be appropriate.  FB recognises that the jury system is impracticable since a group of 15 standing at the bowler's end would make it pretty difficult for most bowlers to get to the crease.  But if the umpire had the third verdict, the Scottish verdict, available, justice could be seen to be done.

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