Bulwarks Against Tyranny
- Parent Category: West Cumberland Times
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West Cumberland Coroner
"Juries were instituted about the time of Edward I. They were then meant as bulwarks against the Government Executive's attempts to interfere with the rights of Englishmen, and ever since then have stood out against such tyranny and injustice. Though we may not have the troubles in the future that there have been in the past, you never know when the Executive may interfere again, and it would never do for juries to be doen away with. I hope you will never vote for their abolition."
Thus did Col. MASON, the Coroner for West Cumberland, address the jury at an inquest near Cockermouth on Wednesday. There was a movement amongst certain lawyers, Col. MASON added, to do away with juries.
He was sorry some of the jurymen had had to come a long distance to that inquest, but it was still necessary to have a jury in certain cases. Though they may not think so, it was a privilege to be a juryman. Before the war it was necessary that there should be a jury at every inquest. A change was made after the war, and a Coroner could exercise his own discretion. To a certain extent a Coroner could still use his discretion, but the Coroner's Act laid down that there must be a jury when the death followed an accident in a mine, an accident in a factory or was due to the use of a vehicle on the highway.
Another change was the reduction in the number of jurymen, which used to be twelve, and now was seven. Also, the jurymen were not now compelled to view the body, though the Coroner could direct them to do so if he wished, and they had a right to see the body.