back to article Jurors start stretch in the cooler for Facebooking, Googling the accused

Two men have been jailed for two months for breaking strict rules against using Facebook and Google while serving on a jury. The pair were found to be in contempt of court by senior judges in London yesterday. One of the jailed men posted a damning message on the social network about a child sex abuse defendant mid-trial; the …

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  1. ukgnome

    Whilst I think these two jurors were dumb, I also feel that the justice system needs to play catch up with the digital age. Maybe the jurors shouldn't watch TV or listen to the radio, and at all cost they should avoid the daily mail.

    Seriously though, if you put an internet connected device into everyone's hand then human nature will do the rest.

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Down

      Being a juror is a serious business. You're asked to decide on something that could lead to someone doing a lot of time - or that an innocent person be punished and the guilty go free.

      Don't talk about the case (on or offline), don't Google the defendants, etc. These rules might seem harsh but they're clear enough. Don't piss about.

      1. Dr. Mouse

        I must say I found it pretty clear. Although it was a few years ago, before Facebook, it was clearly stated that you must not discuss the case with anyone and must not research it outside the courtroom.

        These two were idiots. Unfortunately, you don't have to show a minimum level of intelligence to be a juror.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I must say I found it pretty clear. Although it was a few years ago, before Facebook, it was clearly stated that you must not discuss the case with anyone and must not research it outside the courtroom."

          So exactly the same as after facebook then?

          This sounds like another one of those things where there's already enough law and guideline out there to cover it but some idiot wants some more because it happened ON THE INTERNET.

          1. Thomas 4

            A juror is not a detective

            'nuff said.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oh Please

        Are you serious? Banning someone from Googling the accused is no more ludicrous than checking for their name(s) in the tabloids, yet how many people did that before the internet came out?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh Please

          Looks like we have 3 commentards in denial and counting..

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Oh Please

          Are you serious?

          Yup. It's dead serious. I've served on a jury. You can find someone guilty and they can get sent to prison for years. If you aren't taking that seriously then you're both a total idiot and a liability to the rest of society.

          Banning someone from Googling the accused is no more ludicrous than checking for their name(s) in the tabloids, yet how many people did that before the internet came out?

          Indeed, the above mentioned idiots and liabilities to society did used to check stuff out in the papers. Despite the fact that they are told not to. And now they search online, despite the fact they are told not to. Although online is worse, because at least the UK papers have heard (and sometimes comply with) sub judice rules. Also, the papers may not always be accurate, but they're doing a good deal more fact-checking than random bloggers.

          There are rules of evidence for a reason, in order to give people a chance of a fair trial. You, as a juror, have to accept that you only get limited information. You usually don't get previous convictions for example. You have a role to play in a complex system, and it's your job to do it fucking properly. So some poor sod doesn't end up locked up when they shouldn't be. Also so the victims don't have to come back to court and go through traumatic testimony a second time, because you've buggered up the very expensive and complicated trial, and it has to be done all over again.

          It's not rocket science. You're told what you have to do, and it's your job to do it, as best you can. To go all high-fallutin, its your duty to society. One of the things that makes a decent society, is a fair (ish) legal system. And while no system is perfect, at least juries allow ordinary people to be involved and hopefully keep things sane. With legal checks-and-balances to try and avoid lynch-mob-rule. The only way to ensure the system doesn't turn into a totally self-interested closed shop is to grab ordinary bods off the street, and get them to serve on juries. Which is inconvenient, but necessary. Society would be worse without it. And in my experience, you can be forced to serve on a jury, but they're mostly pretty easy-going about letting you avoid it, if you really want to.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh Please

            Although online is worse, because at least the UK papers have heard (and sometimes comply with) sub judice rules. Also, the papers may not always be accurate, but they're doing a good deal more fact-checking than random bloggers.

            Not always the case, there are papers that willfully publish what they want under the "Freedom of the press" statute and the papers in question will exasperate the truth, they always do!

            I also don't like the way you demonize bloggers as worse than the papers, sure they probably don't do the fact checking, but the tabloids are not known for doing that either. If you think they are, then you're the one that's delusional. As for bloggers, they are also not likely to exasperate the stories, either. There's no monetary motive for most of them unlike with the tabloids.

            Bloggers =1

            Tabloids = 0

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh Please

          "Are you serious? Banning someone from Googling the accused is no more ludicrous than checking for their name(s) in the tabloids, yet how many people did that before the internet came out?"

          I'd count both of those as 'researching the case outside of the courtroom'.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Perhaps you missed the bit in the article that makes it all clear:

      "A jury must only weigh up evidence that has been deemed admissible in court, rather than any old information they may stumble across by researching a case outside of court."

      This has always been true and I imagine judges have always issued instructions to jurors to this effect. The internet changes nothing.

    3. Anonymous Coward 101
      WTF?

      The problem with allowing jurors to 'catch up with the digital age' is that you will allow them to potentially base their decisions on absurdities written by a lunatic in a blog. That said, I suggest this happens all the time but most people aren't so stupid as to brag about it on Facebook.

    4. ukgnome
      FAIL

      Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

      Whilst I think these two jurors were dumb,

      AND

      Seriously though, if you put an internet connected device into everyone's hand then human nature will do the rest.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

        Human nature would also have you attempting to mate with as many females as possible (regardless of their feelings on the matter,) and bludgeoning anybody who annoyed you as a display of dominance. Try either in our society and you'll end up doing time.

        Human nature is not an excuse to ignore the rules.

        1. Zombie Womble
          Thumb Down

          Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

          "Human nature would also have you attempting to mate with as many females as possible (regardless of their feelings on the matter,) "

          Did you just accuse all men of being potential rapists?

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

            ""Human nature would also have you attempting to mate with as many females as possible (regardless of their feelings on the matter,) "

            Did you just accuse all men of being potential rapists?"

            I suppose it might have seemed that way if you're too stupid to understand the difference between a socially conditioned behaviour and a biological imperative.

            1. Zombie Womble
              Stop

              Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

              So you do think all men are potential rapists!

              Whatever you think is driving them is irrelevant!

              1. Fibbles

                Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

                No.

                I think the human animal has biological drives which are far too basic to take into consideration complex concepts such as consent. A man is more than just an animal though, he has socially learned behaviours, he has rational thought, freewill and empathy.

                If you want to get upset over the fact that you have a genetically programmed drive to pass on your genes then that is your business, but stop putting words into my mouth. I do not believe that all men are slaves to their biology.

                1. Zombie Womble

                  Re: Wow - Seems you downvoters missed

                  Only a troll would expect any responder to get upset.

                  Grow up.

  2. Ian 62

    How long before the twitter trends?

    They've stitched me up #inthedock

    Looks guilty to me #1of12

    Yawn, when's lunch? #foremanofthejury

    The judge is asleep again #thedefenselawyer

  3. Matt 116

    Having been on a jury before, it was drilled into you many times that you should never ever do research or even talk about what happens during a case. I was left with no doubt about what would happen if I ignored these instructions. What a couple of morons...

  4. Mark 65

    Worrying

    The most worrying part is that someone with that little common sense to think they could get away with posting something like that on Facebook would get to decide your fate in court.

    As for the fraud case, I have sympathy as fraud trials tend to go on and on with reams of paperwork to get through and plenty of tax/accounting/legal arguments. In fairness most jurors often do not understand the complexities of the cases and I've frequently thought them to be specialised and as such should be dealt with differently, whether that be with more selective juries or panels of judges etc.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Worrying

      Wasn't that the concern about the Apple/Samsung trial as well, that the issues around patent law were so complex that only a patent expert could understand them? Ultimately ended up with 12 average Joe & Janes (including a total dipshit of a foreman) who between them didn't have a clue about the legalities and making decisions they couldn't begin to comprehend.

      Of course there the only issue was money - but extend the same general crapness and lack of specialised knowledge to a trial involving real people who end up doing real time, and it's an order of magnitude more serious.

      Sherlock, 'cos you'd need to be to understand your average fraud case.

      1. Gerhard Mack

        Re: Worrying

        Actually the concern was that, rather than listen to the judge's explanation of how things works, they went off and and listened to someone who had a couple of patents of his own.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: Worrying

      Not worried.

      This is why you are tried by twelve jurors, not one or three. You'd have to be extremely unlucky to have ten out of twelve such idiots on your jury. Fewer means, at worst, a mis-trial. More likely, one good (wo)man and true on your jury will denounce the idiot(s) to the judge as soon as (s)he becomes aware of them.

      There's a case to be made for ensuring that a minority of a jury are technically competent (for example, accountants in fraud trials; scientists where forensic evidence is complex). Maybe 4/12 of them. Never a majority, let alone all. Selecting such a group is likely to select for correlated prejudice.

    3. LaeMing
      Facepalm

      Re: Worrying

      "The most worrying part is that someone with that little common sense to think they could get away with posting something like that on Facebook"

      But he was only posting it to his closest friends. All 400 of them.

  5. frank ly

    It gets better/worse

    "... Davey denied the Facebook account was his, or that he even had a Facebook account,..."

    " ...Davey eventually apologised for the comment ..."

    Perjury as well. Another serious criminal offence.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: It gets better/worse

      Yep. Sounds like we have ourselves a little politician here.

  6. Magister

    Juries

    The origin of the jury goes back quite a long time; originally, they were the people that knew the plaintiffs / defendants and in theory would know the background to the case. It was assumed that these people would be the best ones to provide the judge with the details needed to decide a claim.

    However, over the years, that has changed and now the jury is meant to be an impartial group selected from the public, that can hear the evidence and make a decision based upon that alone. In many cases, because they are lay people, they will not be aware of the minutiae of the law; which is why the court can provide them with guidance or even direct them to pay specific attention to / ignore certain information.

    However, it appears that far too many of the individuals selected to carry out jury duty these days, don't have the basic common sense required to perform this civic function. (OK, many of them are as thick as s***.) There's been an argument that perhaps we need to have a group of people that would be "professional" jurists from which a jury of 10 or 12 would be selected. The idea is then that they might be better equipped to handle the specific requirements of the function.

    I'd previously not been too happy about the concept; I can see too many ways in which it could be abused. But perhaps it is time to rethink this; quite simply, there are just too many cases where the individual jurists have ignored the information provided, or have been influenced by something they had read / seen (especially some the court room dramas whcih are usally so bloody inaccurate, they make the legal profession scream in frustration).

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Juries

      "there are just too many cases where the individual jurists have ignored the information provided"

      Really? are you sure? are you making assumptions on the fact that a few cases are reported in the papers whilst thousands of other trial go without a hitch.

      Dont make the mistake of assuming that just coz bad news is the bit that is published thats all the news there is.

      Thats how we get knee jerk politco's making laws for edge cases.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Juries

        > whilst thousands of other trial go without a hitch.

        You mean where the white middle-aged middle-class jury members decide the black teenagers must have done it

        Of course it may be that juries are perfectly unbiased and the reason the conviction rate is so much higher for young black defendants - is that the cases the police bring against those who look like members of the jury are all obvious fit-ups

        1. Captain Underpants

          Re: Juries

          @YAAC

          Or maybe the problem is that, because of the varying ability of crime victims to pressure/bully police/CPS/law enforcement to prosecute/convict the person responsible (which is frequently interpreted as "nearest young man from a non-white ethnic minority without an ironclad alibi"), higher focus is put on securing successful convictions and prosecutions in cases that "look easy" (ie social conditions make it more likely that the defendant might be a criminal and less likely that he/she will have recourse to reverse a miscarriage of justice, plus the aforementioned social conditions mean that they are more likely to mistrust the law and its representatives anyway) in an effort to hit targets/performance metrics which are at least partly structured to allow politicians/senior officers at the Met to claim that they are "doing something" about crime.

          Part of the reason the CPS come across as so schizophrenically inconsistent is that they are given performance targets based on cases taken to trial, which completely disregards the reality of police and legal work (ie the number of promising cases where due to a lack of a key witness/piece of evidence the trial can't proceed, thus making all the work put into said case a black mark against performance evaluation).

          To put it another way, there's plenty of blame to go round for the current situation and a lot of it should go to those who decided on some not-particularly-good management structures for the folks who decide who to try and prosecute. (It doesn't help that the people they appoint aren't always the best of the bunch, or that the laws they have to enforce are frequently full-on Pants-On-Head Mental...)

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Juries

            True, but the "probabilty jury will convict" is a major part of the CPS calculus irrespective of the evidence.

            If that means let the rich white fraudster go because the trial will be long and expensive and the jury don't like paying tax so it's unlikely we will get a conviction, while a black teenager on a drug charge is a guaranteed win - then you may as well replace the whole criminal justice system with a phone in vote on the Daily Mail

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The origin of the jury

      "originally, they were the people that knew the plaintiffs / defendants and in theory would know the background to the case"

      That sounds very much like "knowing a lot of gossip that wouldn't be admissable". Surely it was the *witnesses* that the juries were supposed to know (and judge the credibility thereof).

      But, yes, all that is long past. (Would knowing one of the witnesses be enough to disqualify you these days?) Juries, however, remain and amongst the reasons cited are their occasional tendency to deliver an unexpectedly verdict. On further questioning, the supporter of the jury system usually seems to be thinking of cases where the jury put equity before the law rather than following it.

      On the other hand, it may be a little like democracy -- the worst system except for all the others. For "safety-critical" systems, the most important design criterion is not "How well can this system perform on a good day?" but "How badly wrong can this system go on a bad day?". Amongst systems of government, democracy wins convincingly on the second point.

      1. Danvighar
        Headmaster

        Re: The origin of the jury

        Having served on a jury... it sucks.

        I've wondered from time to time if "a jury of your peers" should be a little more closely defined than "random citizens (insert local restrictions on jury selection here)". It would make convictions more meaningful, at least.

        For one possibility:

        If taken to a certain point - similar social class, similar professions, but still 'either unaware of the media presentation or able to set that aside and decide impartially': if the prosecution can convince, not 12 people picked for either susceptibility to sob stories or "professions we've decided are good at working based on the evidence we let you see", but 12 people who would be inclined to protect 'one of their own' that you're guilty and deserve punishment...

        Not advocating any changes, more speculating on possibilities.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The origin of the jury

          "similar social class, similar professions"

          I'm sure the banksters would love to have a jury populated by their own, in the extraordinarily unlikely event that any of the financial terrorists are brought up for justice.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: The origin of the jury

            A couple of hundred years ago you had to be a freeholder to be a jurist. (ie; owned your own property).

            Resurrecting this rule would solve the problem without much of a problem and the Land Registry has a ready made database of people. Alternately, you use "taxpayers" defined as people who pay 1 penny more in tax than they receive in welfare payments. Her Majesties Revenue and Customs should hold a list of these people as well, so not much of a problem there.

            Neither of which are going to happen though.

            1. Don Dumb
              Stop

              Re: The origin of the jury

              @Peter2

              Are you kidding me - only landovers or people not claiming net benefit from the state are fit and proper members of society to judge whether someone is innocent or guilty of a crime? - what kind of Daily Mail hell do you view the world from?

              A huge proportion of students, single parents, the disabled and the retired all fail to meet your criteria as worthy of sufficient qualification. Do you really think most of these people are characters from Shameless?

              As for the point about landowners, maybe you should leave the 19th century. Many people, myself included, rent and I have been in full time employment for over a decade, I earn more than the average wage but happen to live in an area with very high house prices and very little building. It is, shock horror, a choice to rent. But obviously, I and a large number of people in their twenties and thirties couldn't possibly sit on a jury under your vision.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again proving that doing so called 'jury service' (read: enforced slavery) is only for those too stupid to avoid it.

    The whole prupose is stupid, no one on the jury was at the scene of the crime so how can anyone know what is true or not & the so called 'science' of forensics only goes so far, after all look how much DNA people shed each minute of their lives, finding DNA at the scene of the crime is *not* a smoking gun like ID-10-Ts who watch CSI think.

    Time we found a new way to deal with stuff like this, one that doesnt require random enforced slavery or the hope that those selected havea full understanding of the law

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      ...no one on the jury was at the scene of the crime...

      No, of course not. Such a person would be called a witness and be testifying from the witness box.

      Jurors sit in the jury box and they get to decide if the witness is telling porkies or not, in which task they may sometimes be assisted by direction from the judge (bloke with a wig with his own desk).

      Seems that the rest of what you said is of a similar calibre. Are you a Sun journalist?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jurors sit in the jury box and they get to decide if the witness is telling porkies or not

        And without knowing the truth by having being there at the commision of the crime how can you tell who is telling the truth ?

        Lawyers lie / experts lie & evidence only takes you so far.

        Yes some cases are quite simple and clear cut, however a good portion arent.

        Understanding is a three edged sword, your side, their side & the truth

        1. TheTick
          Facepalm

          AC's comments are why we should have the basic legal framework of this country taught in schools (perhaps it is and my school was an exception?).

          I served on a jury recently and made no effort at all to get out of it as I was interested in it and wouldn't dream of "getting out of it". Enforced slavery? Yes, but then so are taxes and I'm sure you pay them.

          "And without knowing the truth by having being there at the commision of the crime how can you tell who is telling the truth ?"

          That is the entire point of a jury trial, or do you think we shouldn't bother with legal proceedings at all because nothing in this world is provable to 100% reliability? "These 3 witnesses to the murder could all have been sharing the same hallucination m'lud - it can't be proven they weren't"...

          If you ever get the chance to serve on a jury trial then I suggest you take it, you will learn a lot. The jury's decision is not based on anything other than if the evidence presented has made them "sure" that the defendant committed the crime, and if 12 people are sure that's as good a standard as we are going to get in an imperfect world.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            re: enforced slavery

            And what if it was a fraud trial that might take 3, or 5 or 10 years?

            And comes down to 10,000 different cases of whether a withholding under section 5678987654 constituted a legitimate payment under section 87656789876 or was a transfer subject to section 987656789

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " If you ever get the chance to serve on a jury trial then I suggest you take it, "

            Hmm... in a previous life I was an expert witness, and my advise to anyone other than bored housewives/husbands would not go in the same direction as yours. You might have had one positive experience with one jury. The normal case tends to be rather more depressive.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And without knowing the truth by having being there at the commision of the crime how can you tell who is telling the truth ?"

          It is your jobs as a jury to come to a finding of fact as to who is telling what truth based on the evidence produced at the trial.

          I was on a jury a few years ago, and as we went to the deliberation room I heard some of the other juries saying along the lines of: well, yeah, he's guilty. In my day job I'd had training and experience of examining and balancing evidence and coming to findings of fact, and then using those finding to come to decisions. I manipulated the other members to select me as foreman so I could make them follow a clear process of examination. It turned out, through using the evidence provided, that the accused hadn't done two of the charges, so I made it clear that we couldn't convict on those two.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I am sure all those imprisoned unjustly and falsely are so happy with you all for having such faith in the justice system, if only so many of them hadnt either died in prison or had their lives utterly ruined & robbed from them by it.

            1. TheTick

              "I am sure all those imprisoned unjustly and falsely are so happy with you all for having such faith in the justice system, if only so many of them hadnt either died in prison or had their lives utterly ruined & robbed from them by it."

              Have you a viable alternative that doesn't allow huge amounts of criminals to get off scott free?

              Your point is an argument against the death penalty (an argument I would agree with), not against juries.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Lack of a better alternative, does not mean that the established system is either fair or fit for purpose.

                It is an argument against failures of the justice system, rather a lot of which are caused by juries.

                Would you be happy to be locked up for 40 years for a crime you didnt commit only to be relased with 'oh we are awfully sorry mate, heres you life back except no one will employ you or deal with you because you were in prison & well no smoke without fire in our society mate'

                Of course you wouldnt, so please dont pretend anyone else should be, unless you know the truth and the full truth of a situation you cannot in good faith decide someone elses fate, the arrogance of such a supposition is mind boggling

                1. TheTick

                  You're flinging assumptions about left right and centre here chap. Where on earth did you read that I thought it was ok for people to be locked up for 40 years for a crime they didn't commit?

                  We have a choice:

                  1) Live in a country where criminals get arrested, charged and brought before a jury to decide on their fate. Some mistakes are made causing extreme grief to the innocently charged, their friends and family.

                  or (as you seem to be suggesting, having described no alternative at all)

                  2) Live in a country where no one gets thrown in jail or otherwise punished for crimes because your level of proof required is impossible to meet. Chaos reigns; thefts, murders rapes go on with impunity and increase in number as nothing is done about it, millions of lives ruined, civilization collapses as there is no security for your own person or property so no point in building or maintaining things.

                  I choose number 1, with all it's faults.

              2. Fink-Nottle

                > Have you a viable alternative that doesn't allow huge amounts of criminals to get off scott free?

                Yes. "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"

      2. Don Dumb

        Are you a Sun journalist?

        I'm guessing he is, probably annoyed juries get in the way of The Sun convicting people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jury Nullification

      Well, I for one fully agree that it is a dumb and stupid way of doing things - apart from the person in the dock everyone else in the room is paid to be there (or has the choice to come).

      It is yet another reason to stay off the voting register.

  8. David Webb
    Coat

    face to face or over the telephone or over the internet via chat lines such as Facebook or Myspace".

    Myspace? Not a problem there, no one uses it anymore.

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      Joke

      via chat lines such as Facebook or Myspace

      Oh yes facebook that well known "chatline". What's the number again? oh yeah it's 0891 505050 if I'm not mistaken!

  9. Anonymous Coward 101

    "Woooow I wasn't expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophile’s fate, I’ve always wanted to Fuck up a paedophile & now I’m within the law!”

    I do not know the case here or the quality of evidence, but imagine if you were an innocent man wrongly accused of paedophile offences. Wouldn't the standard of critical thought on evidence here terrify you?

    1. Nigel 11

      Wouldn't the standard of critical thought on evidence here terrify you?

      No, because it would have to be 10/12 of the jury like that before it made any difference. This case proves that the system works. The "bad apple" on the jury has ended up in the dock.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "This case proves that the system works."

        No. This case proves[*] that the system has worked in this case.

        [*] Or at least provides some indication.

  10. JimmyPage
    Stop

    Why we have juries ...

    also - and worrying no one here has mentioned it - juries can judge THE LAW too. Google "jury nullification".

    If you take that away, then you'll just have professional judges who will apply any old law.

    There are a few laws in this country that I could not in all conscience send someone to prison for. And that is an absolute right any juror has.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why we have juries ...

      "There are a few laws in this country that I could not in all conscience send someone to prison for. And that is an absolute right any juror has."

      It's rare for the court briefing to actually tell the jury they can decline to return a verdict.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why we have juries ...

        >It's rare for the court briefing to actually tell the jury they can decline to return a verdict.

        And presumably illegal for you to research the fact that you can

        1. JimmyPage
          Big Brother

          Re: Why we have juries ...

          And presumably illegal for you to research the fact that you can

          not yet. But *if* we had a decent civics curriculum for our citizens, this should be very high on the agenda. It's a landmark in British jurisprudence, and something that sets British justice apart.

          There is a quote, maybe from Edmund Burke, that a jury is it's own parliament, and the first act of any tyrant wishing to rule Britain would be to abolish juries, as they would be doing annoying things like acquitting innocent people, or acquitting where laws are unjust. Which, incidentally, why we no longer have the death penalty. Juries were becoming much less happy to convict if the accused would be executed ... the Home Office realised if they didn't act, eventually a murderer would go free.

          1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

            … and other things.

            JimmyPage, the quote came from Baron Devlin’s (mid-20th century) book Trial By Jury.

            Parliament got rid of the death penalty in 1998, but the last execution in the UK was in 1964, and the last death sentence was handed down in 1973. It seems as though both juries and the Home Office found that life imprisonment would be an acceptable substitute for capital punishment between 1973 and 1998.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: … and other things.

              The last offence punishable by the death penalty was high treason, and there weren't any convictions for it between the abolishment of the death penalty for murder etc and when it was abolished.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: And presumably illegal for you to research the fact that you can

          Only whilst on jury duty. At all other times, I think you can safely hide behind the principle that "Ignorance of the law is no defence" and conclude that you are legally expected to have researched the fact.

      2. JimmyPage

        Re: Why we have juries ...

        It's rare for the court briefing to actually tell the jury they can decline to return a verdict.

        A litigant in person can, although judges *really* don't like it, they can't stop you.

        Anyway, fuck that. *I* would place my (not guilty) vote, and explain it to the rest of the jury.

  11. Gil Grissum

    Really??

    The Facebook case is easy to decipher. Someone on his friend list ratted him out. But how did the court discover that the other bloke did a Google search, when no identity or contact details are necessary to perform a Google search?? The British version of PRISM, or was the court authorized to track the internet use of all jury members in that case? Glad I don't live in the UK. Haven't had to serve any Jury Duty here in the USA, although I've been called to do so. Never been picked. I'm biased, and therefore, neither side would want me on a Jury.

    1. JimmyPage

      Re: Really??

      A fellow juror was alerted when he made a comment involving a fact that hadn't been presented in court. That juror contacted the judge who quizzed the original juror who admitted it, probably thinking it was "no big deal".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flawed as it is, the jury system acts as a balance for important cases against a judge who may or may not be barkingly insane. The profession of judging does seem to have more than it's fair share of people who let the power go to their heads.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guilty by accusation

    My interpretation of this story is that the jury is biased.

    Say guy X gets accused of being a child molester, goes to trial, you've got one cunt who's like "Well, he's been accused of being a pedo. That's good enough for me!"

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Guilty by accusation

      And you have eleven who think he deserves a fair trial. Or six. Or three. If as few as three won't convict, he's re-tried or acquitted.

      One person who argues for an acquittal based on the evidence rather than prejudice is likely to be enough. Fiction, but a great classic movie: "Twelve Angry Men" has this plot.

      1. ChrisBedford
        Megaphone

        Re: Guilty by accusation

        @ Nigel 11 - One MAJOR flaw in the plot of "12 Angry Men" is that a jury is allowed to re-enact a crime to "check the facts". That would be another, so far unexplored in this conversation, abuse of their powers - the jury does *not* consist of expert witnesses, so their re-creation could be flawed and therefore come to the wrong conclusion.

        1. ChrisBedford
          FAIL

          Re: Guilty by accusation

          Of course I meant NOT ALLOWED

  14. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    Excellent - it is about time certain tossbags learnt the difference between..........

    "Jurors start stretch in the cooler for Facebooking, Googling the accused"

    .......an understandable desire to express their opinions and their obligations to civic society. In other words there are times when it is appropriate to shut your gob. It is no good banging on about how nobody takes any notice of us ordinary folk if the moment one of us is in this position they piss all over their responsibilities. The issue is exactly the same (in principle) as that idiot of a jury foreman in the Apple versus Samsung case who utterly ignored the oath he took as a juror.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typcial

    There are many people that suffer from social media affliction. These two are a perfect example of braindead zombies. They would go well with the Spanish train wreck driver who is said to have been talking on his cellphone when the train crashed at 100+ mph killing 80 people. Why can't these types and the train driver be the ones killed from stupidity and negligence instead of innocent people?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typcial

      Are you guilty of convicting the train driver based on evidence you read in a tabloid? Could be...

      Best not to serve on any juries.

      He might have been on the phone to the train company to tell them his brakes had failed. Then again, maybe not. We don't know.

      It looks like he will get the blame though, because other parties who should share the responsibility, such as the politicians who were responsible for the odd route, the train designers who made carriages that came apart too easily and the rail company who didn't ensure there was automatic protection will all make sure he does.

      1. ChrisBedford
        Facepalm

        Re: Typcial

        "It looks like he will get the blame though, because other parties who should share the responsibility, such as the politicians who were responsible for the odd route, the train designers who made carriages that came apart too easily and the rail company who didn't ensure there was automatic protection will all make sure he does."

        Now who's convicting based on tabloid reports?

        1. IDoNotThinkSo

          Re: Typcial

          :-)

          Fair point, but...

          A sharp bend after an 80km+ straight? Especially just after exiting a tunnel. A bit odd, don't you think?

          The carriages clearly did separate. There have been a number of other derailments of high speed trains where the carriages stayed coupled and entire, and there was little or no loss of life. This was obviously in a dangerous environment (concrete cutting) but they look (from pictures, not tabloid reports) to have come apart very easily. Looks like the resuts you would get running a commuter train at HST speeds.

          And quite obviously there was no working automatic protection...

    2. 6th

      Re: Typcial

      RE: train driver.

      It couldn't be that perhaps the current systems are deficient or anything else *other than* willful negligence?

      I mean, I was reading this as a tragic accident so far and didn't know for myself that he was proven guilty of anything yet. Thanks for saving us all the time to find out.

      Guilty. 79 dead already, what's the death of one more amirite?

  16. MnM

    Bootnote

    IANAL but have some experience with this:

    Contempt is not necessarily a criminal offence, although the criminal standard of proof applies in civil contempt cases.

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/contempt_of_court/#a11

    There's a difference between, for example, attacking the judge (criminal contempt, amongst other things) and breaching an undertaking given in a civil case.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Punish Thought Crime vs Real Crime

    How about the courts jailing real criminals 4 a change?

    Really stupid situation and a total waste of public money at taxpayers expense. Making criminals from jurors is insane. Jailing them for posting on facebook is simply going to mean NOBODY will want to accept jury service ever again.

    Rapists and murderers get early release yet our prisons are filled with people posting nonsense on facebook and other victimless acts such as not paying BBC licence fees.

    Upside down justice.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Punish Thought Crime vs Real Crime

      How's that Daily Mail subscription coming along?

      By the way, rapists and murderers should get early release. In order to make prisons governable you have to be able to control the prisoners. One good way is to give them a longer sentence than you expect them to serve, and then give them time off for good behaviour. Thus if they don't behave, they don't get to leave early. So long as the sentences are designed right, this needn't be a problem. You may also wish to consider rehabilitation of prisoners before returning them to society. Unless you want to bring back the death penalty, or build many more jails and go for whole-life sentences.

      One alternative is the US system, where loads of people are on long sentences with no possibility of parole. And they have incredibly violent prisons. Now obviously prisons are full of criminals, so this is going to happen, to some extent. But if people have no hope of release, then your only real threats are solitary confinement. Unless you want to introduce punishment beatings or something.

      As a final point perverting the course of justice is a serious crime. And should be treated as such. Interfering with a defendants right to a fair trial is damaging to both the defendant (obviously) but also the processes that make society work. As well as the collateral damage of causing expensive re-trials, and putting witnesses and victims through the wringer a second time, because of it.

    2. Don Dumb
      FAIL

      Re: Punish Thought Crime vs Real Crime

      Upside down IQ

      Rapists and murderers get early release yet our prisons are filled with people posting nonsense on facebook and other victimless acts such as not paying BBC licence fees.

      Yes they should have convicted another pedo, despite the fact that person may have been innocent. I can see how you would think that someone declaring to several hundred people that they have made their decision on a serious trial before evidence is presented as "victimless". I mean what's the worst that can happen with an obviously unfair trial? someone spends their life in jail, meh!

      What I *can't* see is you enjoying is being sent down for a crime you didn't commit. Or winning any prizes for intelligence

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To quote the Sage of East Cheam...

    Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? Brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten! Is all this to be forgotten?

  19. Julian Bradfield

    standard of proof for contempt

    Para 2 of the judgement says "The law in relation to proof of contempt at common law is well settled. First the Attorney General must prove to the criminal standard of proof that the respondent had committed an act or omission calculated to interfere with or prejudice the due administration of justice"

    Where does the bootnote statement about it being balance of probabilities come from?

  20. YouStupidBoy

    Warning the jury

    The top beaks said every effort was made to try to warn jurors not to use the internet or social media in relation to the case, but it was difficult when there was no consistent system for explaining things to the jury.

    Difficult? Is it bollocks! "Until you are discharged your service to this Court, you will not, under any circumstances, seek out any material that may be related to this case in any manner whatsoever. This includes discussing it with people other than your fellow jury members. It also pertains to information on the internet. If, for whatever reason, you obtain information pertaining to the case that doesn't come from within these four walls, you will not disclose the information to other members of the jury under any circumstances. You will immediately notify an Officer of the Court in this event. You also acknowledge the statements made to the Court or her officers regarding this case are sworn statements. If you DO NOT understand these instructions, please do not sign the form indicating that you DO. If you screw up, we will throw the book at you. "

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