It is proposed by Labour that for a time, jury trials should be heard by juries with seven members.
We have a huge number of trials awaiting, and no doubt juror rooms are not going to be large enough to allow adequate social distancing with twelve people.
I do not know the answer, but I have great doubt about it. There is no magic in the exact number 12, but having been involved in many jury trials, I am not at all sure that 7 would be enough. The number needs to be enough to ensure that any group with strange ideas are nullified.
An alternative might well be to allow trial by judge alone. It is something which happens already in some trials, and in NI. A defendant might well agree to this if he wants it all over and done with.
Having sat twice as a juror I share your misgivings over reducing the number of jurors.
Also sitting as a Magistrate I do favour the option of a Judge and 2 lay Magistrates as recommended in the Auld report (for crimes of middle-ranking seriousness.) I am not happy about a one person making a decision on guilt alone, whether District Judge or Crown Court Judge, but recognise the need to speed up the system for the benefit of complainants, witnesses and defendants alike. The benefit of a Judge/Magistrates bench is that there would be a judgement given with reasons.
I would still allow trial by of jury as 12 as an option, but I believe the hybrid approach is a fair option.
Having also sat on two juries, I'm not sure that Juries were ever an answer. I wouldn't want one Judge making all the decisions either. A panel of Judges to include lay persons?
Hide in the noise. #hackerwisdom
I think that a jury of twelve will include some some 'peculiarities', but that these will be generally smoothed out by the number. I came to respect their decisions. I would never be allowed to serve, so have no experience inside a jury.
I am curious why you think you would never be allowed to serve?
I was a practicising solicitor - but that expires after ten years ceasing practice - so I am just outside the border. I will be 70 shorly - but the maximum age got raised two months ago.
So I might.
The rules were changed some years ago. Court of Appeal judges have now done jury service!
Funnily enough, before the rules changed I regularly received jury summonses and had to explain I was ineligible. Since the change, I have never been asked.