Jury directions just not cricket

A fresh trial has been ordered in a Queensland rape case, after the trial judge explained the concept of “beyond reasonable doubt” using an LBW cricket analogy: “if you’re not sure that that ball is really going to hit the stumps or whether there’s some element of doubt about whether the ball pitched in line or not, you have to give the benefit – the umpires have to give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. And that’s the thing about criminal trials; the benefit of the doubt goes to the defendant.” The Supreme Court of Queensland Court of Appeal held that the analogy was misleading, and that it might have given cricket fans on the jury a disproportionate influence. In Victoria, judges are guided on this point by sections 20 and 21 of the Jury Directions Act 2013, which was passed in response to a VLRC inquiry.