I love these sorts of dicussions on K5, it's why I come here, lots of bright people willing to discuss, rather than rant.
Anyway. Some of the stuff you mentioned, about the system having protection for the accused is interesting. I think you would have to find a legal scholar to compare the relative merits of the two systems, so I won't claim to know which is better.
However, the problem goes back to what I talked about in the thread on atheism, that sometimes the system might be right, the legal structure spot on, but if the prevailing culture of the people, and those in authority is not in line, then things can turn out very differently.
It is my perception that in the UK then general culture among the police, and judiciary is that the spirit of the law is important when considering a defendants rights. Perhaps this is a result of all the wrongfull convictions in the 60's and 70's (Birmingham 6 etc), but there seems to be an attitude that the police should go out of their way to avoid any posibility of a wrong conviction.
We have something called the Criminal Cases Review Commission, that is working through many cases from the last few decades and investigating allegations of wrongful conviction. Recently there was a case of a guy who has spent the last 25 years in jail for a murder that he didn't comit, who is now out after having his case reviewed. That is a long time to wait, but better late than never.
My point is that the culture is (at least in my perception) to be very different. Here, the move to introduce videoing of interviews is being lead by the police, not outside political or rights campaigners. That I think appears to be the fundamental difference. The police are trying very hard, because they want to restore the public trust, and keep it. That requires that they are seen to be fair.
As to the trial-by-jury issue, there are several points to note. First, the plan was only to restrict the right in some minor offenses. Many minor cases are tried by magistrates (sitting in a panel of 3) anyway, this just extended it. However, that hasn't happened, because the general political and social climate here was against it. It may get through in the end but it is likely to be significantly watered down. Also, judges in this country are generally well respected. There are some dotty old ones, but they are a minority. In many cases I would rather be tried by a judge than a jury. Jurys are not always the best. Whatever, it didn't happen because the culture didn't approve of it.
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