Court Trials

Just a short post this time, to ask the question: Is it reasonable that in England, a court trial takes as long as it does?

I am no expert, but it seems to me that the course of justice is not necessarily served by allowing trials to take as long as the lawyers can find evidence. The danger is that a lawyer can succeed in "blinding with science" as the saying goes - piling on the presentations until the jury don't know what to think. There is another danger; with access to the law becoming increasingly expensive, many people simply cannot afford to go to trial, while others are forced to wait for court hearings for months or years.

It seems to me that the following is good:

  • giving lawyers a short-ish time limit (set per-case) to present the case in court should encourage them find the best evidence and present it succinctly, not just all the evidence;
  • permitting a lawyer to present a summary of evidence, rather than necessarily going through it all in detail in open court, while providing ways the jury or judge can request more detail, should make it simpler for lawyers to stick to the points most pertinent to the case (Some way of checking that the summary is fair is probably needed!)
  • making serious and significant attempts to minimize the number of times a trial is postponed or adjourned (including delays in getting started), so as to minimize the cost to society of unnecessary jail time, lost work, and damaging social stress;

Any thoughts?