Beyond doubt: the case against ‘not proven’

Chalmers, J. , Leverick, F. and Munro, V. E. (2022) Beyond doubt: the case against ‘not proven’. Modern Law Review, 85(4), pp. 847-878. (doi: 10.1111/1468-2230.12707)

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Scotland, unusually, has three verdicts in criminal trials: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. The not proven verdict, regarded by many as an intermediate option between the other two, has been the subject of a long-running debate as to whether it should be abolished. In this article we argue that it should. Drawing on empirical evidence from two recent studies, we cast doubt on the arguments most often made in its favour – that it serves a valuable communicative function, protects against wrongful conviction, and/or increases juror satisfaction. There is no consensus on its meaning or appropriate application in any given case, and it risks both stigmatising an acquitted accused and diminishing complainers’ opportunities for closure. It is doubtful that it prevents wrongful conviction, but even if it does, there are more effective measures in this regard.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This article draws on two empirical studies: the first on (mock) jury decision-making and the second on complainers’ experiences. In respect of the former, we are grateful to our collaborators on the Scottish Jury Research project (Rachel Ormston and Lorraine Murray of Ipsos MORI Scotland) and to the Scottish Government for funding and supporting that work. In respect of the latter, we are grateful to Rape Crisis Scotland for their support of Vanessa Munro’s interviews with complainers, and to the University of Warwick for funding the project.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chalmers, Professor James and Leverick, Professor Fiona
Authors: Chalmers, J., Leverick, F., and Munro, V. E.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Modern Law Review
ISSN (Online):1468-2230
Published Online:01 December 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors.
First Published:First published in Modern Law Review 85(4): 847-878
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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