Juries: Diluted Doubt

A vital element in the criminal jury system that the U.S. has inherited from Britain is the concept of unanimity. For a man to be convicted, the prosecution must persuade every juror that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The hope is that a holdout will sometimes prevent a miscarriage of justice. But in Britain the unanimity requirement is about to be abandoned.

Prodded by a crime rate that has sharply increased since World War II, the Labor government introduced a Criminal Justice reform bill into Parliament last fall. Tucked away among its provisions was the proposition that instead...

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