A recent case got me thinking again about juries and whether the current jury system truly serves justice to the people. Two separate case at two separate times resulted in one man going to prison for life and the other walking free. Did vigilante justice pervade over legally defined borders of criminality?

You will recall the case of Tony Martin (R v Martin [2001] EWCA Crim 2245), the farmer who was found guilty of murder when he shot a 16-year-old intruder and the jury rejected self-defence. I remember the chat show hosts getting very excited: “Now we can’t even defend our own homes!”

As it happens, his conviction was overturned on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but his argument of self-defence was clearly reje...

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