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Three jurors in the 1993 trial of Stephen Young for two counts of murder were unable to make up their minds over the defendant’s guilt or innocence. They sought help by using a Ouija Board to commune with one of Mr Young’s victims. The spirit of Henry Fuller duly appeared. Fuller had been killed with his wife Nicola, and in his ghostly reincarnation Henry confirmed that Young was the pair’s killer. ‘Vote guilty tomorrow,’ was his instruction, via the Ouija board. Young was convicted – and re-convicted at the retrial for the inevitable ‘material irregularity’ in the first proceedings. Swordplay online, Top Ten Mad Jury Moments #1
An Australian drugs trial lasting more than three months and costing taxpayers over A$1 million was abandoned after a number of the jurors were found to have spent much of their time engaged in Sudoku puzzles. The judge had a feeling that all was not as it should be when he noticed that some jurors were writing notes vertically rather than horizontally, but one juror insisted that devotion to Sudoku was actually beneficial to justice: ‘Some of the evidence is rather drawn out and I find it difficult to maintain my attention the whole time’, she was reported to have told Australian Associated Press. ibid. #2
A woman witness was giving evidence [in an indecency case] and was asked what the man in the dock had said to her. She was too embarrassed to repeat it in open court, so the judge asked her to write it down. She did, and what she wrote was ‘Would you care for a screw?’ This document was passed around the jury until it reached juror number 12, an elderly gentleman who was fast asleep. Sitting next to him was a fairly personable young lady. She read the note, nudged her neighbour and, when he was awake, handed it to him. He woke with a start, read it and, with apparent satisfaction, folded it and put it away carefully in his wallet. When the judge said, ‘Let that be handed up to me,’ the juryman shook his head and replied, ‘It’s a purely private matter, my Lord.’ ibid. #10, cited Professor Gary Slapper, How the Law Works
Sir Mark Potter, Britain’s most senior family judge and President of the High Court Family Division, told The Times that the judiciary had been split about whether to open up the family courts and that there was not a clear single view. Brian Gerrish, lecture British Constitution Group 2009, ‘The State of the Nation’
To laugh, to life, to flatter, to face
Four ways in court to win men grace. Roger Ascham, 1515-1568
‘I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said the old cunning Fury;
‘I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.’ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
No! No! Sentence first – verdict afterwards. ibid.
The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
And wretches hang that jury-men may dine. Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
Chmurny’s decision to swallow the pill Wednesday unnerved Howard Circuit Court officials and stunned his lawyer, Dino Flores.
Flores said he had no inkling that the 57-year-old scientist, a man he described as ‘very intelligent’ was contemplating suicide.
‘I had no idea anything like this was possible,’ a shaken Flores said yesterday. ‘Certainly, sitting right next to him as he does this, it’s very surreal to me.’
Chmurny faced a maximum penalty of more than 30 years in prison for the crimes. Sentencing had been scheduled for November 15.
Chmurny’s actions at the defense table in Howard Circuit Court’s ceremonial courtroom were not unprecedented. At least once before in Maryland, a defendant committed suicide by taking cyanide in open court. Baltimore Sun online article Lisa Goldberg 14th September 2001, ‘Chmurny succumbs to suicide’
It looks like you’re gonna have a new court ... Seems everyone wanted an example made. Midnight Express 1978 starring Brad Davis & Irene Miracle & Bo Hopkins & Paolo Bonacelli & Paul L Smith & Randy Quaid & John Hurt & Norbert Weisser et al, director Alan Parker, embassy bloke
The truth doesn’t count for much in a courtroom. Kojak: The Marcus-Nelson Murders 1973 [Kojak pilot episode] starring Telly Savalas & Ned Beatty & Marjoe Gortner & Jose Ferrer & Allen Garfield & Lorraine Gary & Roger Robinson Harrriet Karr et al, director Joseph Sargent, Jake
To continue, you’ve listened to a long and complex case – murder in the first degree ... Your verdict must be unanimous. 12 Angry Men 1957 starring Henry Fonda & Lee J Cobb & E G Marshall & Martin Balsam & Jack Warden & John Fiedler & Jack Klugman & Edward Binns & Joseph Sweeney & Ed Begley & George Voskovec & Robert Webber et al, director Sidney Lumet, Judge
We’re talking about somebody’s life here. We can’t decide in five minutes. Supposing we’re wrong. ibid.
What’s the matter with you guys! You know he’s guilty! He’s got to burn! You’re letting him slip through our fingers! ibid. juror
A friendly little argument. ibid. juror to Clerk of the Court
I just don’t think the State should take a man’s life. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 1956 starring Joan Fontaine & Dana Andrews & Sidney Blackmer & Shepperd Strudwick & Arthur Franz & Philip Bourneuf & Ed Binns & Robin Raymond, director Fritz Lang, Austin
Dancer Strangled Scene of Murder ibid. Press Herald Monday May 14th 1956
They’re showing highlights of the trial every evening. ibid. old bloke
We find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree. ibid. Jury
An Authentic Story based on the records of British Justice. The Case of Charles Peace 1949 Michael Martin Harvey & Chili Bouchier & Valentine Dyall & Bruce Belfrage & Ronald Adam & Peter Forbes-Robertson & Kathleen Rooney & Richard Shayne & Jean Shepeard & John Kelly et al, director Norman Lee, caption
Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer. This is the whole object of the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey. ibid. plummy commentary
I want to interest you in a criminal of the Victorian period: Charles Peace ... He was a very remarkable character. A veritable Jekyll & Hyde of crime ... In all the history of crime there’s been no character quite like him before or since ... I’m going to take you to Charles Peace’s second trial. ibid. Sir Clement Barnes KC, lecture
Master criminal. Great lover. A mixture of childlike simplicity and cunning evil. ibid. commentary
Not guilty, sir. ibid. Charles Peace in dock in chains
If Dyson lays a hand on you I’ll do the killing. No, Kath. I’m mad about you. Husband or no husband we’ve got to make our life together. ibid. Charles Peace
Don’t do anything you might be sorry for, Dyson. ibid. Charles Peace
Keep away from my wife. ibid. Dyson to Peace
Charles Peace Wanted For Murder. ibid.
It was an accident though the coppers won’t think so. ibid. Charles to wife
Yes, Hannah, I’ve repented. ibid. Charles to wife
The prison industry and the courts system – it is the most profitable corporation in this country. The courts system and the prison system generate more money than ten of the largest Fortune Finance 500 companies in this country. Walter Burien, interview Alex Jones, Comprehensive Annual Finance Reports Exposed
This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. Oliver Wendell Holmes junior
George Maben was sentenced to thirteen years in prison – two less than the standard tariff for premeditated murder. The judge described Maben as a kind and caring person and unlikely to kill again. The family were horrified. Murdering the Mother in Law: Countdown to Murder, Channel 5 2015
George Mabe’s sentence was revised by the Court of Appeal. He was given an extra five years in prison. ibid.
It’s a respectable [marriage] agency, Your Honour. Proper printed notepaper. Advertisement in the Horse and Hound – everything. The Pure Hell of St Trinian's 1960 starring Joyce Grenfell & George Cole & Cecil Parker & Eric Barker & Thorley Walters & Irene Handl & Lloyd Lamble & Nicholas Phipps & John le Mesurier & Basil Dignam & Michael Ripper & Raymond Huntley & Liz Frazer & George Benson & Sid James et al, director Frank Launder, Cole in court
You’ve got hold of the dirty end of the stick there guv. I mean, Your Grace. ibid.