British Circuit Judge Rose Discusses ‘Judaism and the Law Related to Terrorism’

The International Law Society, Jewish Law Society, and Criminal Law Society recently welcomed the Hon. Jonathan Rose, a circuit judge of criminal and family law in Leeds, England, to Washington University School of Law. Rose spoke on “Judaism and the Law Related to Terrorism.”  

Adjunct Professor Steven Laiderman, LLM-Taxation ’88, was instrumental in arranging for the judge’s visit, which also included the judge addressing Professor Mae Quinn’s Criminal Justice Administration I class. 

Beginning with a quote from the Torah, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20), Judge Rose explained that the law of Judaism is foundational to our modern-day legal systems. Because of this, it is relevant to all students of the law. 

However, while a literal reading of the Torah may appear to support the concept of lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”), physical punishments—including death—were almost never used in Biblical times. Instead, the threat of physical retaliation helped to maintain order in society. 

“Even in response to the challenges of terrorism, punishment should be proportional, rather than retaliatory,” Rose said. “These are the principles of justice that are to be incorporated by issuing sentences that fit the crime.” 

Rose practiced as a barrister from 1983–2008. He worked primarily in criminal and family law, for both the prosecution and the defense, specializing in cases involving sexual and violent crime and the defense of those with mental health disorders. 

Among the numerous murder cases Rose handled as a barrister was that of a child named Lesley Molseed. In 1997 the case became the subject of a book, Innocents: How Justice Failed Stefan Kiszko and Lesley Molseed, which Rose co-wrote with Steve Panter and Trevor Wilkinson. The book examined a notorious miscarriage of justice in which an innocent man, Stefan Kiszko, served 16 years in prison for the murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed before being exonerated. Through the use of DNA evidence, another man, Ronald Castree, was subsequently convicted for the crime. 

Rose also appeared for the defense in the landmark case of Dr. William Kerr, which considered the application of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights to an alleged offender adjudged mentally unfit to be tried. In family law, Rose specialized in children’s cases, particularly “care cases,” in which local authorities seek to take over the care of children—wholly or partially—of parents alleged to be incapable of caring for them. Another notable case was that of Daniel Joyce, in which the evidence of a 4-year-old boy—said to be the youngest witness ever heard in an English Court—was admitted and secured a conviction regarding a serious assault upon him when he was 2 years old.

By Timothy J. Fox