Every year, about 80 NSW juries fail to reach a unanimous verdict. And about 25 of those hung juries are the result of just one juror playing lone ranger.
The hold-outs might be from the same mold as Luke Shaw, who refused to accept that his political hero, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, could be guilty of perjury. Or Ross Clark, the foreman in the first Ananda Marga trial who was later vindicated when an inquiry cleared three men of murder.
Yesterday, the State Government announced plans to allow 11-1 verdicts for all criminal trials, against the recommendation of the NSW Law Reform Commission and to the disgust of the legal profession. “I would sit the politicians down in a quiet dark room and make them watch 12 Angry Men,” said the secretary of the NSW Bar Association, Robert Toner, SC.
Questions remain over how long the jury must deliberate and the Bar Association, the NSW Law Society and the Law Council of Australia were all concerned it could be as little as six hours.
They also questioned the assertion by the Attorney-General, Bob Debus, that he was only bringing NSW into line with the other states, and England and New Zealand.