HL Deb 04 March 1887 vol 311 cc1234-52

, in rising to call attention to the Jury Laws of Ireland, and their administration; and to ask, Whether Her Majesty's Government intend to propose any alterations in those laws with a view the better to secure the due and impartial administration of justice? said, that the subject was not a very inviting one; but he felt it desirable to introduce it to the notice of their Lordships, as at the present moment it was of great importance. His motive for putting the Notice on the Paper was not solely because of the great importance of the question, but also, as it was manifest from occurrences in "another place," that great misapprehension and misunderstanding existed. The misunderstanding which existed had not been cleared away by the hesitating manner in which answers had been given to Questions in the House of Commons. He had also recollected that it was one of their Lordships' proudest prerogatives to superintend the administration of law and justice in Her Majesty's Dominions, and to see, in fact, that right was done in every part of the United Kingdom. The advantage of introducing the subject in their Lordships' House was that it would be calmly and dispassionately discussed. Two Judges had recently given descriptions of the counties of Limerick and Clare which were not encouraging as to the restoration of peace and order. The Times yesterday reported a typical case as follows:— At the Clare Assizes, on a charge of assault, before a Petty Jury, a verdict of 'Not Guilty' was returned, although the evidence clearly pointed to the guilt of the accused, and there was virtually no defence. Mr. Justice O'Brien, addressing Mr. Morphy, Crown Solicitor, asked him to consider what course he would adopt in reference to any other criminal cases remaining for trial at the Assizes. At the sitting of the Court next morning, Mr. Morphy said that he had determined on not proceeding with the trial of John Dwyer charged with shooting at a police constable. The case was accordingly postponed to next Assizes, the accused being allowed out on bail. The Jury Law was very ancient, so ancient, indeed, that it was difficult to ascertain its foundation. But it might be truly said that the Jury Laws of Ireland stood on the same Constitutional foundations, and were nearly identical with those of England. Formerly, in Ireland, as in this country, there were considerable abuses which were partially remedied in 1833 by an Act passed by Lord Grey's Government. The constitution of a jury panel then rested altogether in the hands of the Sheriff; but in 1871 an Act was passed making an automatic and alphabetical selection of persons qualified to serve. He mentioned the name of the author of that Act, Lord O'Hagan, with respect and affection, and no one could doubt that he proposed the measure in a spirit of patriotism and for the public good. The lines of that Act were Constitutional. The Act was intended to remedy the evils which then existed. It took the matter on to entirely new ground. The panel was taken entirely outside the reach of public officers, and he said that because he saw it stated recently that mistakes had been made in the jury panel either by the Public Prosecutor or the Crown Solicitor, who had no more to do with it than any one of their Lordships. Their Lordships might have read of the Sligo trials, where the panel was quashed. He had looked into that case, and there were technical mistakes, and the eminent Judge who presided quashed the panel; but he had the authority of that eminent Judge for stating that there was no ground for imputing wilful misconduct to the public officers. Lord O'Hagan did not himself perceive any danger when he induced Parliament to take what it could not be doubted was a leap in the dark. He went so low as to flood the jurors' book with names of men wholly unfit for the duties of jurymen, four-fifths of these being people largely disqualified—some ignorant, some illiterate, some subject to intimidation; and so in time there came on the jury panel persons wholly unsuited to perform their duties. That was a matter which had not been entirely remedied; and from that leap in the dark they had only partially recovered. The danger to the administration of justice became so apparent that in 1873, six or seven months after the Act came into operation, a Committee of the House of Commons—of which the Marquess of Hartington was Chairman—was appointed to report on the working of the Irish jury system, and to suggest the requisite amendments to the law. In 1874, upon the assembling of a new Parliament, the Commission was reconstituted, with Sir Michael Hicks-Beach as Chairman. The Commissioners made their Report, but their suggestions were not all given effect to. The effect of them was that a Statute was passed to increase the qualification to nearly double what it was, both in reference to common and special juries. But the result even now was not altogether satisfactory. In 1881, a Select Committee of their Lordships' House, of which the Marquess of Lansdowne was Chairman, found that the legislation of the preceding 10 years had not gone on sound principles, the great body of names on the jurors' books consisted of farmers, and— That the system, in summoning jurors, of invariable adherence to the dictionary order of the names in the jurors' books, has not worked well, and requires alteration. It further reported that— The evidence leaves no room for doubt that in many cases the fears of the jurors hare been operated upon, sometimes by direct intimidation, sometimes by the apprehension of consequences morally or materially injurious to themselves. Members of the jury panel are, we learn, not infrequently subjected to pressure in anticipation of a coming trial. It is obvious that in districts where the whole agricultural community is penetrated by a widespread organization which habitually enforces its rules by the maltreatment or persecution of those who disregard them, it must be difficult or impossible for jurors, themselves members of that community, to withstand the influences to which they are exposed. The adoption of the suggestion as to increase of qualification is Not unattended with difficulty. It is probable, although upon this point we have not obtained conclusive testimony, that in many districts an increase of the qualification from £40 to £50 or £60 would diminish the number of jurors to an extent which would render the burden of service too onerous on those who would be left. The evidence taken left no room for doubt that, under the system adopted, in many instances jurymen were operated upon, sometimes by direct intimidation, and sometimes by the apprehension of consequences morally or materially injurious to themselves, and that it was often impossible for them to withstand the influences to which they were exposed. With regard to the question of an increase of the qualification of jurors, on that point he (Lord Fitzgerald) entertained considerable doubt; but the matter was one deserving of serious consideration by their Lordships whether further amendment was not necessary. A point which caused great excitement at the present moment in connection with the administration of the law was what was called jury-packing. All Englishmen loved fair play, and so did he. He had looked into the matter to see whether the complaint that had been made was justified. By jury-packing was popularly meant the exclusion of Roman Catholics who were returned on the panel from taking part in trials. If it was true that practice existed he should certainly consider it a disgrace to the law. If Roman Catholics were excluded because they were Roman Catholics—if any sections of the community were ex- cluded because of their religious opinions, he should think it was a great injustice, and would sooner see the whole system swept away than have such an injustice continued. But Roman Catholics were excluded from the jury-box, not because they were Roman Catholics, but because they happened to belong to a class whose sympathies were with the accused, and who might be subject to intimidation, and for other good reasons. In reference to the framing of the jury panel and the setting aside of jurors, the law in England and in Ireland was substantially the same. By the 9th of Geo. IV., the claim of the Public Prosecutor to challenge peremptorily was negatived; but this Proviso was added—that It is not to affect the power of any Court to order any juror to stand aside until the panel shall be gone through at the prayer of them that prosecute for the King. In 1798, at the trial of Arthur O'Connor at Maidstone for high treason, the number of challenges allowed by law to the prisoner—namely, 35—having been made, and 25 for the Crown, the trial proceeded. There was a vigorous argument by Mr. Scott, counsel for the prisoner, and a solemn protest; but the three Judges who presided over the trial allowed as unquestionable the right of the Crown. At the trial in Ireland of Roger O'Connor in 1817 for the robbery of the mail, the prisoner challenged peremptorily to the extent permitted by the law—namely, 35, and there were 25 stands-by on the part of the Crown. In 1820 there was a trial for high treason in this country—that of Thistlewood. In that case there were 25 challenges for the prisoner and 26 for the Crown. But if there was any room for doubt it was closed by the case of "Hansel v. Regina." Lord Campbell, in his judgment, affirmed that of the Court of Queen's Bench—"That the Crown is entitled as of right to set aside any juror when called." He (Lord Fitzgerald) was desirous of calling attention to some excellently prepared regulations issued July 5, 1839, by the then Attorney General (the Right Hon. Maziere Brady) to all Crown Solicitors in Ireland to regulate their conduct in exercising the right to direct jurors to "stand by." After stating the instructions of his immediate Predecessors, Mr. Brady added— The main points of those instructions appear to me to be—first, that no person should be set aside by the Crown on account of his religious or political opinions; and, secondly, that the Crown Solicitor should be able in every case in which the privilege is exercised to state the grounds on which he thought proper so to exercise it. In the propriety of these directions I entirely concur. The first appears to me to be founded on the most obvious principle of policy and justice; and the second is consistent wish all the rules which govern the responsibility of public officers. After an exhaustive enumeration of the legal grounds of challenge, he added— I wish it to be understood that the setting aside of jurors by the Crown is not to be confined to cases in which an actual legal cause of challenge could ultimately be established, and I will mention some instance in which it appears to me that the privilege may be so exercised with justice and propriety. He instanced, inter aliaIn cases, too, arising out of or connected with trade combinations or other confederacies of a like character it will be obviously improper to leave on the jury any person who may be known to be himself engaged in the same or a similar association, or to have given countenance or encouragement to it. This valuable Code of Instructions, worthy to be classed as a State Paper, thus concluded— You must be well aware that in prosecutions the discovery of truth and the attainment of justice are the paramount considerations to be attended to. To these ends nothing can more powerfully conduce than the impartial return and selection of jurors, and I have no doubt that in exercising the privileges of the Crown on this subject you will regard only the public duty confided to your charge, remembering at the same time how important it is that the performance of that duty should be divested of all appearance of prejudice or partiality, and, above all, endeavouring to secure that public confidence in the administration of justice which is the best guarantee of the peace and good order of society. Succeeding Law Officers adopted those instructions. He (Lord Fitzgerald) himself did so, with some practical additions as to unlawful combinations; and he had no doubt his noble and learned Friend (Lord Ashbourne) did the like when he filled the Office of Attorney General some 10 years since. It had been contended that jury-packing existed because of the exclusion of Roman Catholics; but these jurors might be set aside for other reasons than because they were Roman Catholics. Some trials which excited a good deal of attention took place at Sligo, and it was alleged that there was jury-packing there. He had not the facts before him; but, a few weeks before the Woodford trial took place, a series of articles began to appear in United Ireland. In one of those articles it was stated that— We look to the Irish jurors this winter to teach this cowardly, cut-throat Government of ours a lesson never to be forgotten. The jurors can do it, and we dare swear they will. Our Irish jurors are the one barrier that stands between us and absolute and undiluted despotism. What a paradise of tyrants the island would be if it were not for juries! A mass meeting was also held on the Sunday before the trial, and the speeches delivered at it were characterized by more than usual violence. On December 4 United Ireland published an article concluding thus— We earnestly exhort every man among them to be at his post. To every man among them we venture to repeat the solemn enjoinment of his oath—'He shall well and truly try and a true deliverance make, so help him God in his own sore need.' This was a direct appeal to the jurors to find a verdict not according to the evidence or the law. Their Lordships must not shut their eyes to the fact that in Ireland at present intimidation was going on, and, along with the intimidation, punishment after the trial took place. They could not forget the case of the Dublin juror who was nearly assassinated in the streets; nor the cases of two Cork merchants—gentlemen of respectability—whom it was attempted to ruin, because they concurred in verdicts which were just and true. When a man got into the jury-box, he was bound, regardless of intimidation and of all other influences which might be brought to bear upon him, to do his duty fearlessly and honestly. If he did not do that he did not do what he had sworn to do, and he was unfit to discharge the duty of a juryman; and such a man the Crown was bound to direct to stand aside. He (Lord Fitzgerald) had felt himself compelled to undertake the duty of bringing this matter before their Lordships, and he was obliged to the House for having allowed him to state his views with regard to it at such length, because he thought that—having had an experience of 22 years in the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland—he was somewhat qualified to state what was the law upon the question. If in the course of his experience any instance of the Public Prosecutor ordering a juryman to stand aside on the ground of his religion had come to his knowledge, he would have made a protest against it, and it would have been attended to. In his opinion the Criminal Law in Ireland was well and mercifully administered. He had brought this question under the notice of their Lordships with the view, not of disturbing the present jury system in Ireland, but of preventing misunderstanding and error. He begged to conclude by asking whether Her Majesty's Government intended to propose any alterations in those laws with a view the better to secure the due and impartial administration of justice?


said, that before the Question of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald) was answered he wished to make a few observations with regard to the subject to which it referred. The statements of the noble and learned Lord with regard to the Criminal Law of Ireland required no confirmation. The noble and learned Lord, however, had referred to the Criminal Law of England; and as he himself had been concerned in the administration of that law for a long period, he desired to say that the noble and learned Lord had accurately stated the law in this country with regard to the right of the Crown to direct jurors to stand by. Upon this point he should like to refer to the case of "The Queen v. Mansel." In that case the prisoner was indicted for murder, and the jurors on the jury panel had been selected from two localities—namely, from the town of Maidstone, and from Rochester and Chatham. It was known at the time that there existed at Rochester and Chatham a club with which a large number of the inhabitants were connected, the members of which had expressed a strong objection to capital punishment, and who had stated that if they were placed in the jury-box in a case in which the offence charged was a capital one they would not find the accused guilty of murder as long as capital punishment was enforced. That being the condition of things, the Counsel for the Crown in the case in question had felt it to be their duty to keep the Rochester and Chatham men out of the jury-box, while the Counsel for the prisoner was naturally anxious to get them into it. Accordingly, the prisoner's Counsel peremptorily challenged 35 Maidstone jurymen, and the Counsel for the Crown had all Rochester and Chatham jurymen directed to stand by. The result was that there were fewer than 12 men to go into the jury-box. The power of the Crown to direct any other Rochester or Chatham man to stand aside was then gone, because the Crown could not exercise its right to direct jurors to stand aside in such a manner that the trial could not take place. In this state of things a Rochester man was called. The Counsel for the Crown called upon him to stand by, and objection was taken on the part of the prisoner that they had no power to order him to stand by. Just at that moment a jury which had previously retired to consider their verdict returned into Court, and from among them a sufficient number of Maidstone men were obtained to make up the jury in the murder case, notwithstanding the objection of the Counsel for the prisoner that the Rochester man ought to have been allowed to go into the box. The accused having been found guilty, the matter was made the subject of a Writ of Error, and both the Court of Queen's Bench and the Exchequer Chamber held that the Counsel for the Crown were within their right. The reason of the Counsel for the Crown acting as they did was not before these Courts; but no one doubted or complained that if the Crown had the right, its Counsel had only done their duty in keeping out of the jury-box those whom they had reason to believe would give a wrong verdict for wrong reasons. If that was a case of jury-packing it was one of packing into the jury-box men who would do their duty. The 12 men who were ultimately got into the jury-box were men against whom no objection could be taken, for if any could have been, it would have been done by a challenge by the prisoner for cause.


(Lord ASHBOURNE) said, no one was better entitled to speak on the subject of the Irish Jury Law than the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Fitzgerald), who had spoken with a full knowledge of—and from a long and honourable connection with—the administration of the law in Ireland with all the strength of knowledge, and with all the earnestness of conviction. It was difficult to overrate the important bearing which this question of trial by jury had upon the preservation of law and order in Ireland. The noble and learned Lord had stated with unanswerable truth that the jury system in Ireland was in all its great essentials the same as that of England and of Scotland. That was a statement which would face the light of day with unmistakable clearness, and which could not be challenged by anyone having any real acquaintance with the subject. The actual working out and details of the jury system in Ireland was founded on Lord O'Hagan's Act. He agreed with his noble Friend in the tribute which he had paid to the motives of the late Lord O'Hagan; but, unfortunately, it was admitted by all who had any knowledge of the administration of the law in Ireland that Lord O'Hagan's statute introduced a system which had most seriously interfered with the administration of justice in that country. That was unquestionably not the intention of the noble Lord, whose motives were good, upright, and pure. But the effect of the Act when it first became law was to encumber the books with a great mass of jurors, many of whom were ignorant, many liable to the influence of terror, many liable to have their judgment distorted by sympathy with the accused whom they were to try. The only means left of coping with that state of things was the cumbrous power of changing the venue, and also a power which existed in the Crown in England as well as in Ireland from the earliest time, the power of telling persons who came to take the oath to stand by. One would think, from what was said by those who ought to know better, that that power was a creation of the last few months or years. Not to go to the earliest times, but only to the starting point when Lord O'Hagan's Act was passed, in 1871, that power was familiar to everyone who knew anything about the subject. After Lord O'Hagan's Act was first passed it was common at Assizes after Assizes, and he had seen it himself, to have 50, 60, 80, 90, and 100 persons repeatedly ordered to stand by, not in cases involving political prejudice or passion, but in ordinary cases, in order to get a jury which could be relied upon to do their duty in a fair and decent way. He spoke openly and publicly, and he asserted that was a statement which could not be controverted by anyone acquainted with the elements of the question. He was speaking of common instances which had occurred 10 or 12 years ago—before the amending Act of 1876 was passed. Take the case of the Phœnix Park murder trial, under the Administration of Lord Spencer, after the amending Act of 1876. What men in the community would dare to say they sympathized with the murders? Could any man suggest a case in which it should have been easier in any state of society to get 12 men into the box who could be trusted to do what was fair between man and man over these brutal and disgraceful murderers? And yet in 1882, or the beginning of 1883, when that trial took place with a special jury panel, what occurred? The trial was conducted by Mr. Porter, the then Attorney General and the present Master of the Rolls in Ireland, than whom a more able man never conducted a case as Crown Counsel or presided as Judge upon the Bench. When that trial took place in Green Street, with a special jury panel of 200 names, it was felt to be absolutely necessary, to enable the Crown to get together a jury that could be trusted to perform its duty independently, fairly, and free from influences that should not enter a jury-box, to order 30, 40, and 50 persons to stand by. With the recent Sligo case everyone was familiar. The Crown ordered 17, 37, 12, 9, and 26 jurors to stand aside, and he had no doubt that in this case the Crown Solicitor was led by a strict sense of duty, by the one object of endeavouring to secure a fair and impartial trial. Indeed, no one had ever argued that there was placed on those juries a single individual who was not a fair, honourable, and upright man. All that could be alleged was that certain men were told to stand aside whom those who had special sympathies with the prisoners would have preferred to serve on the juries. In the late Dublin prosecutions only 28 were told to stand aside, and yet a result was not secured by the agreement of the jury. His noble and learned Friend had shown an anxiety not to say anything which might cast a reflection on the system associated with Lord O'Hagan's name; but he thought he had attributed too much weight to the effect of the changes recommended by the Lords' Committee of 1874. They thought they might improve the posi- tion by raising the qualification. His noble and learned Friend thought they had largely succeeded. He could not agree with his noble and learned Friend. There was an improvement, but it was not a very substantial one. Evils which previously existed were found still to survive, and accordingly the next Committee, that of the Marquess of Lansdowne in 1881, reported a state of things to exist which showed that the jury system, with their amendments, still presented features which required very cautious examination. The constitution of the Committee of 1831 was very important. It consisted of Members of their Lordships' House, to whose judgment they would pay respect, as well as to their desire of doing what was just and right. The then Lord President of the Council (Earl Spencer) and Lord Carlingford—then Lord Privy Seal—were Members of the Committee, took an active part in its proceedings, and agreed in all its recommendations. One of the strong views formed by the Committee on the evidence was thus expressed in paragraph 17— In cases where the disturbing element enters, though the criminal may have been detected having upon his person traces which would leave no doubt as to his guilt, though his identity may have been clearly established, the jury have again and again disagreed and found a verdict of acquittal. Among the recommendations, which were numerous, were these:—(1) Proposals to facilitate changes of venue and for obtaining special juries; (2) Summary jurisdiction in cases of rioting, aggravated assaults, forcible possession, assaults on process servers and agents of the law, threatening letters, and intimidation. He (Lord Ashbourne) had no doubt that the Committee arrived at those conclusions from a consideration of the evils they had to cope with and of the danger of having men on the jury panel who were warped by sympathy, men liable to intimidation—in fact, men who would not have the independence which every juryman should possess, and therefore not able to discharge their duty with that sense of responsibility which every juryman should bring to the task. He had no doubt that the recommendation of the power of summary jurisdiction was given, to a certain extent, to relieve the jury system by removing certain cases from the purview of juries, and also because it was thought desirable for the administration of justice and the due maintenance of law and order that there should be in that class of cases some quick and summary punishment—say a certain punishment of six months' imprisonment with hard labour, as more deterrent to the persons likely to indulge in such practices than the dread of a long period of penal servitude which would depend upon a jury which could not be relied upon to convict. Those recommendations had, from time to time, been brought to public notice; they had more or less been embodied in temporary Acts of Parliament, and, while in existence, they had worked well; and there could be no doubt but that, seeing what had taken place in Ireland in recent years, the extra powers were necessary. Had the system improved since 1881? He did not believe that anyone who had listened to the speech of his noble and learned Friend, or had any knowledge of the state of things in Ireland, could have any doubt as to the answer which should be given to that question. It was very desirable to know what had been the teaching of the Nationalist Press in Ireland in reference to jury administration in that country. He would not weary their Lordships with many quotations; but those he did read would show under what difficulties juries had to act in Ireland. The first was from The Irish World of December 18, 1886— An honestly selected jury of Irishmen could not and would not convict any Irishman of a political offence against British law. …. Irishmen ought not and would not assist in the administration of laws made by foreigners and enemies in a foreign country, and made for the purpose of exterminating the Irish race The people of Sligo, for example, will not say that the Woodford farmers were 'guilty' in resisting Clanricarde's attempt to drive them out of their homes, or that John Dillon was 'guilty' in advising them to resist. No one in Sligo would say such action or speech was a crime, except the small minority of Loyalists. That was the kind of teaching and the sort of spirit in the presence of which juries in Ireland were called upon to do their duty as honest and upright citizens. That teaching required to be very vigilantly watched, and every encouragement should be given to juries who would try to rise above it. The second quotation he wished to make was from United Ireland of the 20th of November, 1886, and was as follows:— We look to the Irish jurors this winter to teach this cowardly, cut-throat Government of ours a lesson never to be forgotten. The jurors can do it, and we dare swear they will. …. He (the juror) is responsible only to his own conscience and to his country for his verdict. He tries and is tried, and as he judges others he shall himself be judged. Their Lordships would be able now to realize something of the great difficulty that was experienced in Ireland in getting an independent jury to fearlessly perform their duty; and they would doubtless have some sympathy with jurors who, after an honest attempt to perform their duty uprightly, returned to their homes with such statements as that confronting them. Another extract he wished to read was the following, from an article in United Ireland of December 4, 1886, under the heading of "A True Deliverance":— On the juror's shoulders the entire power of deciding, the entire responsibility of the decision, is cast. Whom he binds shall be hound; whom he loosens shall go free. The Judge's claim to bind the juror's conscience by subtle legal technicalities has no root in the Constitution. The juror has taken no oath to yield obedience to his directions; there is no power in the State to compel his obedience. The 'guilty' or the 'not guilty' of the jury is irrevocable and irresistible, let the Judge storm as he may in impotent malice. The most powerful Government and the most tyrannical cannot touch a hair of the prisoner's head while a single resolute and upright juror stands between him and its victim. This is the law—this in England is the practice. England dates some of the most splendid triumphs of her Constitution from the resolute refusal of jurors to submit to judicial dictation. Hitherto the Judges have managed to shroud the deliberations in the jury-box in a veil of mystery, which has been a strong incentive to the form of intimidation to which we advert. The persecuting majority in the jury-box might pose as patriots outside if so disposed. The Judge commands the strictest secrecy. The juror may retort—'I cannot find it in my oath.' There is no word of secrecy in the oath. The Grand Jurors—it may be in the interest of genteel jobbery—pledge themselves that 'their fellow jurors' counsel they shall not disclose.' The petit juror binds himself by no such pledge. The marked omission of the words would be in itself an express denial of the existence of such an obligation of silence, and it may well be that the white light of public opinion and the hot fire of public odium are the best remedy for the monstrous abuses that have sprung up in the jury-box under the shelter of the judicially imposed darkness. The most besotted and bloodthirsty juror will, we fancy, moderate his eagerness for conviction if he knows there is a right of appeal from the dark security of the jury-box to the calm judgment of his neighbours in the world outside. What was the meaning of that extract? Was not the first part of it an intimation to jurors to disregard the ruling of the Judge on matters of law—to act in a certain direction regardless of what the law was? And was not the second part of it an encouragement to drag forth from the privacy which should be the protection of a jury the names of those men who were sufficiently courageous to try to do their duty in a conscientious and independent manner? These, then, were the conditions under which they had at the present time to administer the law in Ireland. Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., speaking in front of the Court House, Cork, on the 2nd of December, 1886, said— Justice has been polluted within the four walls of the building (pointing to the Court House), and we are here to-night to see that if Tim Hurley is put upon his trial he must have and shall have justice, or we will know for what. …. We Cork men.…. Must insist that Cork jurors will not be made the tools of Mr. Peter O'Brien and the Castle. It required a great deal of courage for a jury calmly to enter upon deliberation and openly to discharge their duty when this was the kind of atmosphere that was sought to be created around them, and when this was the kind of welcome which was promised them when they left the jury-box and returned to their homes. Were it necessary, he could weary their Lordships with the number of cases in which juries had disagreed or had acquitted prisoners in face of the strongest evidence and the most clear judicial guidance and warning. It was sufficient for him to direct their attention to the case the noble and learned Lord had referred to, which took place before Mr. Justice O'Brien at the Clare Assizes, and had just been reported in The Times. In the words of the Judge—as able, upright, and independent a Judge as there was on the Irish Bench—it was a failure of justice, in spite, presumably, of the clearest evidence. The Counsel for the Crown brought under the attention of the Judge the fact that there were similar cases yet to be tried; and Mr. Justice O'Brien said that, having regard to what took place on the previous day, it was his fixed opinion that nothing but a complete failure of justice would ensue if the cases were heard, and accordingly the cases were postponed to the next Assizes. No jurors could be blamed if they felt anxious after the treatment which some of them had received for acting independently and with a regard to the loyalty of their oath. The noble and learned Lord had referred to the treatment to which jurors in Ireland were subjected who had sought to do their duty. Let their Lordships take the Sligo case, in regard to which it had been openly stated that the Roman Catholic jurors had been sought out for the purpose of being Boycotted. Even two triers—men who, under the direction of the Judge, performed the function of ascertaining whether the panel was constructed according to law, had been subjected to every form of abuse—their names had been published broadcast, and things done which was certainly not intended to add to their comfort. Moreover, the noble and learned Lord had referred to what took place in Cork. A notice was sent to the farmers of Kerry, which showed the methods of intimidation which were adopted. It was an absolute threat of outrage in cases where jurors endeavoured to discharge honestly the obligations of their oath. The notice was as follows:— To the farmers of Kerry.—At the late Cork Winter Assizes a large number of men were convicted of charges of "moonlighting" on the notoriously false evidence of police witnesses. Among the pliant jurors who did the work of the Crown were to be found two Kerry men, viz.,—and—, with whom the people of Kerry have had extensive dealings in the butter trade. Farmers of Kerry, will you continue during the coming season to send butter to these worse than horrid men? You have other men in the Cork Butter Exchange in your own county who would disdain to do the dirty work which—and—have done, and why not patronize them instead? If you don't do as requested and Boycott those of the Crown you will be coerced into doing so. Do it voluntarily or severe measures will be taken to compel you. There are plenty of men still in Kerry prepared—to follow in the footsteps of those whom—and—have helped to send to a convict cell, and who will not stick at trifles to obtain revenge.—(Signed) Captain MOONLIGHT. It was in this way that jurors were intimidated by adopting every means to make the lives of those who honestly discharged their duties a burden to them. Under these circumstances, he (Lord Ashbourne) thought it was plain that the present jury system in Ireland was open to the charges that had been suggested by his noble and learned Friend; it did not secure the due and adequate administration of the law that was called for in the interests of the country. Take the murders that had recently occurred in Southern Counties; if men were returned for trial no one could, under the present jury system, anticipate results which would satisfy the requirements of public justice. Take the system of Boycotting which was prevalent in so many parts of Ireland. The system was cowardly, mean, inhuman, and brutal; it was a scandal and a disgrace to the people who were a party to it. It was a gangrene that eat into the moral life of the nation; it was a cancer, that undermined all respect for the law. The cases were so numerous that it was difficult to make selections. In the Curtin case Boycotting had amounted to a prolonged agony of barbarism against a family whose solitary offence was that the head of the family had been coldly murdered—the husband in the presence of his wife, and the father in the presence of his children. There was absolutely no other reason to be assigned for the horrible conduct towards the family. Take the case at Mitchelstown of Lady Kingston, who had displayed indomitable courage while exposed to great injustice. According to all evidence, the estate had been well-managed, and she had been distinguished for the kindness she had shown to the tenants; who were satisfied until they were got at by agitators, and since then Lady Kingston had been subjected to Boycotting, which she was living through with courage and determination. She had already succeeded in breaking some of those who had Boycotted her. Take the case of the unfortunate man Murphy, who, having been murdered, had with difficulty been laid in the grave within the last few days. He was murdered for reasons which he himself could not guess or speculate about, regardless of the agony and despair of those made a widow and orphans. No wonder there were discontent and dissatisfaction at such a state of things existing and being permitted to exist in Ireland. It would be startling to make the discovery that such a state of things existed in a civilized country. Was it not appalling that, with such a state of things, delays were encouraged and pretexts were put forward to prevent remedies being applied? Those who, by speech or by letter, endeavoured to postpone the time when such a state of things could be adequately grappled with, could not be startled if a harsh and clear judgment was passed on their acts. The fact that the jury system was the pivot of law and order, and of the administration of justice in Ireland gave value and interest to this discussion, and the jury system was almost paralyzed. Men who excused this state of facts must be taken to be palliators. It was sought to justify these facts by stating that an excuse was to be found in some rents being too high, and that it would be possible in some cases if landlords chose to exact rents that were too high. One did not know what words to use that would adequately describe a suggestion of this kind offered as an excuse. Was it not notorious that the landlords had carried concession to such a point that they could hardly go further. Could you point to a property of any kind in Ireland where the sole question was, not whether there was concession, but how much the concession had been? The Irish landlords did not need any defence from him; they found their defence in the convictions of every honest and fair-minded man. They had been kind, forbearing, and considerate. They had shown in this present crisis, where-ever it was needed, and over and over again where it was not needed, every desire to make the fullest and the most ample concession. It was said these scandals existed because Ireland had not Home Rule. That was not only nonsense, but it was criminal nonsense. If a people broke some of the Ten Commandments, that was no reason why you should hand over to them the power of having no Commandments at all. It was a very novel way of dealing with crime to say you would not deal with crime until you had done something to satisfy those who committed crimes. The Government had acted and would act with determination and courage with such powers as were at their disposal; and they would, when the opportunity was offered them, and when it was permitted to them, ask for such further powers as they might think necessary. When they had those further powers they would use them with a sense of justice, with fairness, with firmness, and with courage. His noble and learned Friend asked whether the Government intended to submit any proposals to Parliament, and his answer was that when the Government got the opportunity—which seemed to be sedulously denied them by those who knew better—they would be ready to submit proposals which would enable crime to be punished, and thus restore law and order in Ireland where they had been interfered with. And of this he was confident, that when the Government did submit these proposals they would be sustained by the entire public opinion of the country, which had watched the proceedings that were now going on, understood the difficulty of the situation, and was determined that in this matter justice and right should be done.