The stupidity of the Pryce jury sneerers laid bare
The reason for the apparently ‘no-brainer’ questions to the judge is perfectly obvious to anyone with the capacity to think things through. It goes something like this in the jury room:
Jury forewoman/man: So, fellow jury member, are you still saying that you think she’s guilty/innocent because of what you saw in the paper, and that this is more important than any of the evidence you’ve heard?
Fellow jury member: Well yeah, I think she’s guilty, alright? I don’t care about the evidence.
Jury forewoman/man: [Sighs] Right, ok, how about if I ask the judge whether that’s a reasonable approach for the jury to take. If he says, yes, then fine. If he says we have to stick to the evidence and what we’ve heard in court, will you go with that?
Fellow jury member: Well, yeah, ok.
Jury forewoman/man: Ok, and while we’re at it, is there anything else we need to be absolutely certain on……
That is, the questions almost certainly emanate from the reluctance of one or a small number of members’ to engage properly with the jury process, and the attempts of the forewoman/man, perhaps at the instigation of other members, to find a way through which deals respectfully but firmly with this frustrating impasse. (In times past, I found myself using roughly the same technique with fellow magistrates whom I thought were getting the wrong end of the stick i.e. suggesting that we check for clarity with the clerk of the court, confident that s/he would back my interpretation.)
In the end, no verdict was possible in the Pryce trial, but to suggest that this reflects the stupidity of a whole jury is itself pretty stupid.
Of course, in Tom Harris’s case, his misreading fits nicely with his Burkean self-image as one of a small elite band with sufficent God-given powers of judgment whose task it is to save us all from our own stupidity.
Which kind of underlines his stupidity.