JOHNNIE Cochran, the high-profile defence lawyer of OJ Simpson, has been criticised over remarks he made about the UK jury system.
Cochran, who visited the UK last week for the 'Race for Justice' campaign organised by the Society of Black Lawyers, accused police of failing the black community and the UK legal system of ignoring the needs of ethnic minorities.
He said: “How can you call yourselves civilised when your judicial system only works for the white landed gentry? Your juries seem to presuppose that police evidence is infallible. You need a mind-set of people who have open minds and are not biased against race.”
He backed the SBL's campaign to recruit more black people on to UK juries.
“If you're going to have a system that people believe in then what is wrong with having a majority of minorities on the juries?”
However, Sailesh Mehta, chair of the Society for Asian Lawyers, said of Cochran's comments: “Why should either a victim or a defendant have a biased representation? You cannot draw the line in this sort of issue. What if the victim or defendant were a member of the National Front? Would that mean composing a jury full of National Front members?”
A spokeswoman for the Lord Chancellor's Department also rejected Cochran's criticisms.”We have a Lord Chancellor who is committed to recruiting ethnic minorities into every level of the law.
“Our jury system as it stands could not be fairer – juries are selected at random from the electoral roll.”