Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


Northern Ireland's principle of non-jury felony trials is an anomaly in Anglo-American jurisprudence. Indeed, it is unique among common law systems. One British legal scholar has referred to the jury trial as the "paradigm of all [criminal] trials." The exceptional situation in Northern Ireland has resulted from the ongoing "troubles" which, since the late 1960s, have been a prominent feature of life in this small segment of the United Kingdom. Eliminating the jury in trials dealing with terrorist charges was determined to be necessary in dealing with the mounting sectarian violence. Part I of this article summarizes the issue dividing Northern Ireland. Part II analyzes the procedure of non-jury trials, paying particular attention to how the ordinary rules of evidence are altered. Part III enumerates the reasons for Northern Ireland's departure from the norm in these criminal proceedings, and examines the measure in practice. Finally, the article considers the arguments for and against retaining the practice of non-jury trials.

Included in

Criminal Law Commons