http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9882943/Vicky-Pryce-jurors-given-further-directions-by-judge-in-speeding-points-case.html This is a trial that has attracted much media and dinner party interest here: where the wife is admitting the crime but for the fact she acted through 'marital coercion' - a defence we might think that may have made sense in times where wives were akin to the husband's property, and meant to obey him, but which it is rather immoral and unjust for an educated and career woman to be hiding behind these days. There is a lot that could be said about the jury's questions and the judge's answers, which show the limitations of ordinary language and judicial directions, for the judge's answers - even if impeccable in legal terms - might be quite unsatisfactory to the jury. "Here are the jurors’ questions, and the answers the judge gave to them. Q1. You have defined the defence of marital coercion on page 5 of the jury bundle and also explained what does not fall within the definition by way of examples. Please expand on the definition, provide examples of what may fall within the defence, specifically 'will was overborne' and does the defence require violence or physical threat? Answer: “The pressure applied by the husband need not involve violence or physical threats. The law requires that a husband was present and coercion was to such an extent that she was impelled to commit an offence because she truly believed she had no real choice but to do so.”" Here the jury seek greater guidance on "will was overborne", by way of further "definition" or "examples". But all the judge gives is a paraphrase - "she truly believed she had no real choice but to do so": but without any further "examples" or further criteria to indicate how this is to be judged. Why only this paraphrase by way of reply - which restates the problem rather than solving it? There are many reasons but among them: "examples" different to the case in hand would not help to say how the case in hand should be treated, and it is not for the judge to say by "examples" how the case in hand should be treated, therefore the judge should not give "examples" - and if the jury asked him to comment on "examples" of their choosing, the judge should still decline to comment for similar reasons. (But note: negative examples are permitted and given to explain "what does not fall within the definition by way of examples".) The law takes the view that it is ordinary language ordinarily understood to speak of someone's believing they "had no real choice" - and, beyond that, the question of what constitutes truly believing you "had no real choice" is the question the jury must themselves decide. The judge also declines to enter into anything further that might only confuse the issue even if it might be analytically correct: for example, by pointing out that there is a subjective and objective aspect to "she truly believed she had no real choice" and these aspects are left for the jury to resolve:- so that, analytically - given just the 'ordinary language ordinarily understood', it might be possible on one reading of "she truly believed she had no real choice" to convict - because, while she subjectively believed or felt she had no real choice, objectively she had a choice and so her belief was not a "truly believed"; and on another reading to acquit - because, while objectively she had a choice, nevertheless she subjectively "truly believed" she had no choice. [Those familiar with Kant's first Critique will know the trouble he had resolving the subjective and objective aspects of things, and the voluminous literature that has ensued, and so might understand why a judge might stay clear of trying to sort this out for the jury.] "Q2. In the scenario that the defendant may be guilty but there may not be enough evidence provided by the prosecution at the material time when she signed the notice of intent to prosecute to feel sure beyond reasonable doubt, what should the verdict be, not guilty or unable or not safe to bring a verdict? Answer: “Turning to page three of my written directions, the direction is combining the burden and standard of proof with the need for a majority verdict. If, having carefully considered all of the evidence, at least 10 of you feel sure of the guilt of the defendant then it would be your duty to return a verdict of guilty. On the other hand, if after careful consideration at least 10 of you were feeling less than sure of guilt, then it would be your duty to return a verdict of not guilty. And so it follows that if at least 10 of you are not sure, the appropriate verdict is one of not guilty.”" Here the jury's question is both somewhat unclear and perhaps confused - so the judge simply repeats the direction they should be following. "Q3. If there is debatable evidence supporting the prosecution case can inferences be drawn to arrive at a verdict? If so can inferences/speculation be drawn on the full evidence or only where you have directed us to do so? Answer: “The drawing of an inference is a permissible process. Speculation is not. In this case the evidence on which the prosecution relies is largely undisputed, and where you are willing to draw inferences from that is entirely a matter for you."" Now what this comes to is that "speculation" is impermissible but the "drawing of an inference" is permissible. How to tell one from the other? Well, one is impermissible and one is permissible.... "Q4. Can you define what is reasonable doubt? Answer: “The prosecution must make you feel sure beyond reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law does not allow me to help you with, beyond the written directions [he had already given them]”." Got that: "A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable." What is really important is why the judge is not allowed to go further - for reasons similar to why the judge should not give "examples" or criteria of a "will overborne"; nor should perhaps the judge explain further - with examples or criteria - the difference between "speculation" and the "drawing of an inference". "Q5. Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it? Answer: “The answer to that question is a firm no. That is because it would be completely contrary to the directions I have given you.”" This is an interesting one. This may be impeccable as a matter of law but the fact is this: if a jury "come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it" then nothing much can be done about it (by way of appeal, for example). It is therefore clear the jury have the power to do this, de facto. Whether that power is de jure has never actually been decided: after all, if it is de facto it would be academic whether the power is de jure - and the courts have ruled they do not rule on academic questions. (Its de facto exercise has never led to an appeal where its de jure status might be decided.) So why has the judge not said this, but instead maintained they cannot "come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it"? Because telling the jury that they can "come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it" might be tantamount to inviting them to engage in "speculation", which is impermissible. As Wittgenstein might now say - "Do you see? Do you see what is shown here?" But of course a better jurisprudence is a Popperian one which accounts for all this in terms of specific problems and their possible solutions.* Donal Not holding his breath for an explanation of the difference between 'philosophical logic' and a 'logico-philosophicus' London *As to claims like "A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable", when considered for their lack of explanatory power, Popper is inclined to blame the baneful influence of certain analytic philosophers: see Realism and the Aim of Science.