The judge's charge in criminal trials' (Thomson Round Hall, 2008) Genevieve Coonan and Brian Foley

AuthorNial Fennelly
PositionJudge of the Supreme Court of Ireland
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [2009:1
(Thomson Round Hall, 2008)
Genevieve Coonan and Brian Foley
The very title of this impressive work, as much as the fact
of its appearance, testifies to the enduring and intense importance
of jury trial in Ireland. Lord Justice Auld in his 2001 Review of
the Criminal Courts of England and Wales described jury trial as
the “practical and public manifestation of the citizen’s
involvement in the administration of criminal justice”,1 and a
“powerful contributor to public confidence in [that] system”.2
At the same time, official statistics show consistently that some
90% of convictions on indictment result from a plea of guilty. So,
most do not get to the jury.
The two young barrister authors disclose in their Preface an
aspiration to fill a gap at the issue desk of the Law Library.
They have regularly witnessed the doyens (unnamed, but one can
guess) of the criminal bar “taking out Charleton, McGrath and
Walsh in one swoop”.3 The perceived gap relates to the absence
of any work dealing with “the most important time in a criminal
trial”.4 This work will fill it, and will add a kilo or so to the
weight to be borne by the doyens.
I wonder, however, if the authors are right to perceive an
increasing amount of appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal
grounded on alleged defects in the summing up. In September
2008, the Law Reform Commission of the State of Victoria
Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland.
1 Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales, Chapter 1 available at
2 Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales (precious note).
3 Coonan and Foley, The Judge’s Charge in Criminal Trials (Dublin: Thomson
Reuters, 2008), ix.
4 Coonan and Foley (previous note), ix.

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