This program is used as an alternative method for the juvenile offenders at their first or second time. The program give privileges to peers to charge, represent and sentence their fellow peers who have been caught by the issue of have misdemeanors. This works similar to the commoner's court. This is because it offers peer to have equal rights to try their peers, as commoners have to be tried by jury of their caliber. The formalization of this kind of trial was done in fourteenth century under a statute that was passed in 1341 (Cobbett Et al 1809).
The privilege of trials by the peers was found to be inadequate, as they never covered the case of gender sensitivity. Thus there was need to change the law to accommodate this. Therefore, in 1442, this was enacted after an ecclesiastical court. These enabled the peers and the peeresses to have equal right to try their fellows.
In the statute that was enacted, the peer who was caught to have committed a crime of felony and treason was given a right to be tried by his/her peers. According to the act of Henry, this six was ruling at that time. It stipulated that the peers had the right to attend the case that was being presided by the Lord High Steward and they have the right as Lord President Judges to pass conviction as judges by law and the fact. This is done when the parliament is having a sitting. If the parliament is out of session, the case is supposed to be referred to the Lord High steward court. The lord steward will be the one who will answer and decide all legal questions as the peers are there as judges of facts only. The peers cannot say anything beyond what the Lord High steward says.
The peers to peers trial have found its root in the ancient time. Especially the trial of peers to their fellow ones in cases of treason and felony. The Lord High Steward was meant to be the one presiding such cases of treason, felony as the Lord Chancellor was at those days an ecclesiastical, and it was wrong for him to involve himself in the cases that regard blood. This means that in a case where the conviction can probably turn to murder, he was not required to preside. Otherwise, this was seen to be eventually eroded with time. This was experienced when such Lord Chancellor were seen presiding such cases.
The court and criminal justice system
The criminal justice system in England have evolved over a considerable period of time and it a mix of both traditional and modern institutions, procedure and agencies all working in collaborative manner. The system involves policing and prosecution, criminal courts, giving of sentence, the penal system as well as the governmental and organizational context of criminal justice. There is no penal code in United Kingdom so many criminal offences are defined by statues which allows laws to be introduced to it by simply passing of bills through both the House of Commons and the House of Lords prior to it becoming acts of parliament.
The criminal justice system in England comprise of a wide number of agencies working together to deliver on various criminal justice responsibilities entitled to them. The criminal justice system involves co-operation from the police, the crown prosecution service, and the courts that covers both the prison and the probation service courts with the national offender management service. All the concerned agencies work is overseen by the three government departments, which involve the ministry of justice, the attorney Generals office and the home office (Davies & Tyrer2005).
The criminal justice system relies on the support from the community especially from victims and witnesses who play a vital role in bringing the offenders to justice. Support and advice is readily available to the community in case of crime reporting as well as in investigation services. Service numbers are available for easy and convenient reporting of both emergencies and the non-emergency crimes by the public.
Police assists in carrying out of investigations on the reported crime by identifying and catching suspects, and carry out questioning after which they have they are bestowed with powers to charge, release the suspect or use out of court disposal to solve the problem.
The crown prosecution service is the one responsible for deciding whether a person is to be prosecuted for the criminal offence or not and this is done through the application of the code for crown prosecutors to the facts provided for the particular case. The minor offences like motoring offences, minor assault are often dealt with in the magistrate's courts but the serious ones like the indictable offence such as murder, rape, robbery and manslaughter; the case is passed to the crown court for judgment by a judge or jury. The crown courts are expected to give sentences that protect the public, punish the offender fairly, make offender amend their crime, reduce crime and should reform and rehabilitate the offender. Such sentence can either be in form of fines, charges, community sentences or imprisonment. Finally, in this judicial system if a conviction by the courts is reversed after an appeal the justice secretary considers applications for compensation of the wrongfully convicted offenders and such application must be done under the statutory provision of the law.
Benefits of trial by peers
The trial by peers is a process that yields several benefits both to those administering the system, the court system and the community at large. The counselor or the peers are given an opportunity to play a role in administering justice hence developing an understanding and respect for the rule of the law through experience and classroom education. Counselors also by working with the judges and other law enforcement officers gain an insight on the inner workings of the law thus are able to influence their peers positively. They also gain leadership skills and knowledge in public speaking, ethics and research as well as other crucial life skills as they serve in the system. Finally, counselors learn effective listening and enhance conflict resolution skills broadening their communication skills (Zamora, William Zamora (Author)
The offenders also benefit from the system as they deterred from future offences especially as they are exposed to judgment and they are able to resolve legal problems without obtaining a criminal record or hiring a judge. Offenders also gain a perspective of the law by serving duties on jury hence appreciating the greatness of community service instead of breaking the law. Finally Through trial by peers the community is able to receive valuable service, reduced burden of juvenile cases and lowers cost with in the court system at its services are offered freely by volunteers.
Disadvantages of peer-to-peer trial
According to Vernon-Harcourt, (2003) the legitimacy of the method of trials by peers to the peers has been ay spotlight for a while some people questioning if it article 21 of the Magna Charta refers to it or not. Otherwise, this has not stopped the peer-to-peer trial to cease. According to late James Stephen in his Criminal Law stated that the trial of peers to peers in England has never been either question or changed. The still existed up to today. Such court came about during the reign of Henry II and Edward I and has been adversely mentioned in the English law books of the times. These rulers were there to extend the anarchy that they had by enhancing their bureaucratic ruling. To ensure that this succeeded, they created very many royal offices. However the great Barons were against this and to ensure that they protect themselves from such rulers they had to ensure that they had a right to try one of their own incase of committed felony or treason.
This would help them as for example the case of treason, which was in nature a political offence, would lead them to a great disaster. They wanted to stick to peers for trial rather than being taken to the officials who were always against them. Under the conviction of treason, the person convicted was supposed to forfeit his/her property to the King. Attainder for the case of felony was not supposed to inherit anything from the land and his land was supposed to be confisticated by the superior lord. Such cases were very serious in the English kingdom. As it can be seen, the consequences of such crimes were equally very serious but this was watered down by the attempt of the peers who insisted that they should try their fellow peers even in such serious matters.
The process by which peers become the judge of their fellow peers has very many disadvantages. Despite of the above mentioned consequences of felony and treason to be removed in 1870 by the forfeiture act, this act need not to exist. According to Great Britain Parliament 1742, Lord Chief Justice Coke said that no noble man can resist from being tried by his fellow peers. However, the case was once more delayed for his trial to be given out. The effect of the case of felony being tried in different house from the case of say misdemeanor, without the consideration of acquaintance from either house is a waste of time and causes double expense and anxiety to the one convicted.
Thus, this decline the privilege given to the noble lord. The reason of the peers trying their fellow peer's procedures seems to be weaken very much and probably should exist. The reason being that in United Kingdom, there are compete courts that are capable of passing reasonable judgment to either prisoner or the crown irrespective of either is a peer or not. It is in not in any way logic that the convicted peer may receive unfair judgment for the trial of felony than he will do in the trial for misdemeanor. Especially in this time where there are no distinction between felony and misdemeanor according to heinousness of offence is concerned. In this case, the peer trial seems to make the criminal trial to appear pageant. While in the court of law, things should be done decently as prosecution is an occasion for judicial inquiry contrary to theatrical display shown by peer trials.
To show how this process is disadvantageous, let us evaluate the case of Lord De Clifford. He was driving his car when unfortunately he was in accident with a car of Mr. Hopkins who died. The coroner jury presented a case of manslaughter against Lord De Clifford, which was referred to the Central Criminal Court for the felony of manslaughter. Otherwise, the Lord was a member of peer, he could not be tried in this court, and his case was referred to the Lordship Court but delayed for three months (Great Britain Parliament1742). It was very unfortunate for such simple case could be done fast to take all such unnecessary procedures. It is not a privilege either to have him wait for so long as such case still affects his mind. So many cases of similar character are happening on daily basis.
The peer's case is attended by so many representatives that are otherwise unnecessary in the case. For a case to be attended by eighty-five representative of different calibers is not logical. These increases the expenses to so many times yet the same case can be heard by fewer representatives cutting such costs. Worst of all, most of them are there on duty. This is because, no matter how much education they have, few judges make the interpretation and the passing of judgment. This seems to be underestimating their competency and misuse of public money.
For case involving peers, why should judges taken out of their normal duty to come to advice the lordship on law matter that may arise in the trial. Without underestimating the majesty that the tribunal has of such issues, so many competent peers have experiences in different cases in the same court and are capable of handling such issue. However, the other judges leave their work to come and do nothing after all.
Something that should be done to check such issues. This can be done by trying to check how the criminal law can be consolidated to eliminate and strengthen some of its sections. There has been a scheme targeting the same and the first proposal is to remove completely the difference between felony and misdemeanors. This is by ensuring that the swearing in of judges individually in the case of felony is abolished. Then the swearing in is done once. This will be very effective in terms of time. It may sound a little bit taxing to remove this distinction as very many sections are involved in the statute, but according to me, a bill can be drafted and passed to remove such procedure.