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More needs to be done to ease jurors’ concerns, DPP says

Public Prosecutor 11-12-18 (Photo John ) Christian Rocca newly appointed

The new Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] has suggested that a better education system for jurors could help address the “fear and trepidation” many people feel when called to carry out this vital civic duty here.

In an interview with the Chronicle, Christian Rocca [pictured above left], who took up the role as Gibraltar’s first DPP at the end of last year, said he was a supporter of the jury system and is against “scrapping it" without at least first looking at the possibilities to improve it.

The jury system in Gibraltar is prone to periods of intense scrutiny as to whether the system can function adequately in such a small community.

“The jury system fascinates me and even now I continue to read around it…” said Mr Rocca, who years ago conducted research in Gibraltar’s jury system.

“There are so many different ways [to look at it], from a psychology perspective, a legal perspective, I think it’s just fascinating how it works.

“I’m a supporter of the jury in general terms,” he said, adding: “It’s an important function.”

“There are arguments that it doesn’t work and I understand those arguments.”

“But I would be very loath to do away with it without exploring many things that could be done to try and make it work better.”

“I think that’s where the key lies, before we just say ‘scrap it’ let’s try and do everything we can to not scrap it.”

“And then if it doesn’t work we can look at scrapping it.”

“One of the things we’re a little bit lacking in is jury education. In England for example jurors are very much briefed with a video of what they are expected to do and what happens.”

In Gibraltar, “…the judge does a very good job of explaining it on the day but I think there’s a little bit of fear and trepidation about…”

Mr Rocca, as the DPP, heads up the Office of Criminal Prosecutions and Litigation, which performs in Gibraltar a role equivalent to the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK.

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