Jury Selection

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 9th February 2006.

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Photo of Marilyn Livingstone Marilyn Livingstone Labour 2:15 pm, 9th February 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any concerns about the jury selection process. (S2O-8948)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

The present jury selection process has operated satisfactorily for many years but we have noted the recent judgment of the High Court in the appeal of John Brown v HM Advocate and will be considering both the judgment and, in particular, their lordships' comments about the system by which potential jurors are excused and juries put together.

Photo of Marilyn Livingstone Marilyn Livingstone Labour

In light of the recent case, to which the minister referred, does she agree that we have to consider seriously the representation of women in the judiciary? Does she believe that the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland can redress the balance, or is additional positive action required?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

We have set up the Judicial Appointments Board and we are keen to ensure that a wide range of people put themselves forward for what are important posts. Members should be aware that only this week we published a consultation document seeking opinions on how to put things on a statutory footing, with a view to bringing in legislation in due course. I am sure that members will read the document with interest and I hope that they will submit comments.

Photo of Maureen Macmillan Maureen Macmillan Labour

I know that the minister cannot comment on particular cases without having seen the full transcript, but is she aware of any cases in which a woman has been on trial that have resulted in a decision that there were too many men in the pool of people from which the jury was to be chosen, or too many men in the pool of people who could be chosen to try the case?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I hesitate to give a definitive answer. All that I can say at this point is that no such cases have been brought to my attention so far.