Belfast Telegraph

Fraud juries to get transcripts

Judges in fraud cases can now order that jurors be given transcripts of trial evidence, closing arguments and other documents under a measure signed into effect a decade after it appeared in legislation.

The measure is contained in the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 but only came into force this month after concerns about potential high costs and technical problems.

Justice minister Alan Shatter said it was an important step in tackling white-collar crime.

"Courts will be able to ensure that juries are assisted in analysing evidence," Mr Shatter said. "For too long, the complexity of evidence in fraud trials has been allowed to stand as a barrier to effective prosecutions."

The Department of Justice said some of the concerns that delayed Section 57 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 have been addressed through the installation of digital audio recording systems in courtrooms.

Prior to now, juries could request documents and be given access subject to agreement between the parties.

But under the measure, a judge can take the initiative and order juries be provided with the documents.

Documents covered include any admitted in evidence in the trial, transcripts of opening speeches, evidence, closing speeches and judge's charge to the jury, as well as charts, diagrams or graphics.

Mr Shatter also welcomed the signing into law by President Mary McAleese of the Criminal Justice Act 2011.

"Combined, these measures will strengthen the hands of An Garda Siochana and the Director of Public Prosecutions in their work to investigate and prosecute white-collar crime," Mr Shatter said.

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