Regina v Smith, Regina v Mercieca: HL 16 Feb 2005

A member of the jury wrote to the judge saying that other members were failing to discharge their duties properly. Smith took a tactical decision not to seek a retrial. The judge saw counsel in chambers, after which the jury were reminded of their duties and left to their verdicts. The appellants said that steps should have been taken to investigate the alleged misconduct so as to allow him a fair trial.
Held: The judge was correct to to enquire: ‘the common law prohibition against inquiring into events in the jury room certainly extends to matters connected with the subject matter of the jury’s deliberations’ However the actual direction was insufficiently comprehensive or emphatic. ‘If the jury had been behaving as alleged by the juror in her letter, they required a strong, even stern, warning that they must follow the judge’s directions on the law, adhere to the evidence without speculation and decide on the verdicts without pressure or bargaining. I am unable to regard the directions given as having covered these areas with sufficient particularity and emphasis, and I consider that the jury required stronger and more detailed guidance and instruction. Without that it is difficult to be satisfied that the discussion in the jury room was conducted thenceforth in the proper manner. ‘ Appeal allowed.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Carswell
Times 17-Feb-2005, [2005] UKHL 12, [2005] 1 WLR 704, [2005] 1 All ER 29
House of Lords, Bailii
Contempt of Court Act 1981 8(1)
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Connor and another; Regina v Mirza HL 22-Jan-2004
The defendants sought an enquiry as to events in the jury rooms on their trials. They said that the secrecy of a jury’s deliberations did not fit the human right to a fair trial. In one case, it was said that jurors believed that the defendant’s use . .
CitedEllis v Deheer 1922
The court heard an application for a new trial of a civil action which had been tried before a jury on the ground that the verdict as delivered by the foreman was not the verdict of the jury.
Held: A jury’s deliberations cannot be questioned. . .
CitedRegina v Lucas CACD 1991
An appellant should not be allowed to make tactical decisions not to object to something at his trial, but to save it for an appeal: ‘an appellant should not be able to blow hot and cold in this way.’ and ‘The appellant had himself been made aware . .
CitedRegina v Thompson CCA 1962
There was tendered to the court what appeared to be a statement from a juror asserting that a majority of the jury had been ready to acquit until the foreman read out a list of the previous convictions of the accused.
Held: ‘This court is now . .
CitedRegina v Oke CACD 25-Jun-1997
The defendant said that the husband of a woman juror had sat in court while submissions were made about evidence later excluded form the jury. The evidence was of previous convictions and a similar prosecution against the defendant.
Held: Some . .
CitedRegina v Miah and Akhbar CACD 9-Dec-1996
A message was offered to one of the solicitors acting for a defendant from a relative of a juror after the trial.
Held: Rules against hearing of jury deliberations are wider than Contempt of Court Act. The court refused to commence any Young . .
CitedRegina v Blackwell; Regina v Farley; Regina v Adams CACD 2-Mar-1995
The judge should investigate any suspicions of jury tampering immediately, but must be careful not to enquire as to the jury’s deliberations. The common law rule against investigating events in the jury room has recognised exceptions, but these are . .
CitedRegina v Oke CACD 8-Jul-1997
A juror’s husband had been listening in court. He was present when the jury was sent out and matters prejudicial to the defendant were discussed.
Held: After questioning of the husband, there was no evidence to suggest that any improper . .
CitedRegina v Robinson CACD 8-Nov-2002
The defendant appealed his conviction on the ground that a police informant had been a solicitor’s clerk.
Held: Appeal dismissed, but the use of members of the legal profession as informants, must always be dangerous, and capable of . .
CitedRegina v Orgles (Kevin) – Regina v Orgles (Julie) CACD 9-Jun-1993
Jurors were not to be questioned individually as to on their capacity to continue. Any questions must be put through the foreman, while the whole jury was in open court. It is an irregularity to question individual jurors in the absence of the . .
CitedRegina v McKechnie 1992
When a judge intends to provide an explanatory note for a jury, he should provide a copy to counsel in advance with sufficient opportunity for them to consider and comment on it. . .
CitedRegina v Aitken; Regina v Bennett; Regina v Barson CMAC 8-Jul-1992
Recommendation to change rules allowing judge advocate to sit alone when the question is solely an issue of law. . .

Cited by:
CitedAttorney General v Scotcher HL 19-May-2005
Following a trial, a juror wrote to the defendant’s mother to say that other jury members had not considered the case in a proper manner. He had been given written advice that he was not free to discuss a case with anyone. He appealed his conviction . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 February 2021; Ref: scu.222769