Judges play an essential role in the trial process. In addition to managing the case and directing jurors on the law, Judges also assist by clarifying the evidence of witnesses and/or asking questions of witnesses that a Judge may feel is pertinent to the jury’s consideration of the issues. It is entirely proper for a Judge to intervene in this way – these types of interventions are perfectly proper and an essential part of the trial process. On rare occasions, judicial intervention can create unfairness and in some cases render a conviction unsafe. The Court of Appeal recently declared a conviction unsafe as a result of “serious unfairness” caused by judicial intervention.
NB: Although the judgment was handed down in April 2017 owing to reporting restrictions it was not released until last week.