Last week I made some observations about the UK’s Lord Chief Justice’s comments regarding jury’s use of mobile phones, or any other device with access to the web, to talk about and conduct research on the cases which they are involved in. I came across additional research, reported in an article by the BBC, which provided some additional insight and thought I’d share.
“At the start of any trial, the jury is told not to look in the media for information about the case.
But the rise of internet news sites and other online news sources has raised concerns among the judiciary about how to best police this order.
The Ministry of Justice study asked jurors whether they were prepared to admit to having looked for information on the case that they had been hearing.
More jurors admitted to having seen information on the internet ( 26%) than admitted actually searching it out ( 12%).
But all jurors who admitted looking for information said they had done so online.
Three juries were dismissed in 2008 after judges discovered jurors had been surfing for information relating to the case they were hearing.”
What is clear is that court instructions not to research or consider media commentary and content online are not being either heard, understood or complied with by our jurors. The questions is, is this information security concern, a significant threat to the legal process and to the principle of a fair trial?
If so what controls may the courts need to apply to manage this risk and provide all parties with a fair trial?