Social Networking and Cyber Research Undermining the Jury System

AuthorKaren Eltis
Social Networking and Cyber Research
Undermining the Jury System
“[I]f the jury system is to survive as the system for a fair trial . . . t he mis-
use of the Internet by jurors must stop,” cautioned the Lord Chief Justice,
Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England and Wales.1 In one instance,
a juror in Manchester — in a agrant breach of court ru les and common
sense — posted the details of a rape tr ial on her account (via her mobile
phone). She proceeded to survey her friends on the site, asking: “Did he
do it?” 2 e task of stopping jurors from tweeting or placing posts on sites
such as Facebook is daunting.
Presumably rebuking the lax ity characterizi ng most jurors’ — and
indeed, many courts’ — lenient attitude towards social net working and
other related “mishaps,” o dismissed as an inevitable trend derivative of
progress, the same judge refreshingly added:
We cannot accept that the use of the i nternet, or rather its misuse,
should be acknowledged and treated a s an ineradicable fact of l ife, or
that a Nelsonian blind eye shou ld be turned to it or the possibility that it
is happening. If it is not addressed , the misuse of the internet represents
a threat to the jury s ystem which depends, and r ightly depends, on
1 “Jurors ‘Should Be Prosecuted for Tweeting from Cour ts and Googling Defend-
ants’, Warns Top Judge” e Daily Mail (20 November 2010), online: htt p:// bi t.
ly/do S1f T [“Jurors Should Be Prose cuted”].
2 Guy Patrick, “Juror’s ‘Is He Guilty?’ Posts on Facebook”  e Sun (26 August
2010), online: ww homepage/news/3111826/Woman-juror-

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