British juror holds Facebook poll to judge court case

November 24, 2008

The Internet can be used in a multitude of different ways. From downloading music to movies, keeping up with friends, working, playing, relaxing, and of course, not forgetting, deciding whether someone is guilty of a crime.

Facebook is a great resource, one of my favorite on the Web. It enables us all to keep in touch with people we know in real-life, make new contacts with people online, and generally share our lives with others. What it shouldn’t be used for, however, is helping you decide whether someone is guilty of a crime, especially when you’re a juror for the ongoing court case.

The Sun newspaper reports how a British woman was dismissed from the jury of a court case in Burnley because she had shared details of the case on Facebook. She revealed what the case was about, gave details about the crime, child abduction and sex assault, that the defendant was accused of and then asked her friends to help her decide on a verdict.

She allegedly told friends, “I don’t know which way to go, so I’m holding a poll.”

The unnamed woman wasn’t using any privacy settings, which meant that her Facebook posts could be read by all and sundry. But even if only her friends could have read them, she would still have been breaking the law by sharing details of the case. Jurors aren’t even allowed to talk to heir close family about an ongoing case they are helping judge.

The woman was dismissed from the jury after the court in Lancashire received an anonymous tip-off. The case continued with the other 11 jurors. The defendants were eventually cleared of the charges but the decision could have been very different if the female juror hadn’t been found out. A legal expert stated:

It defies belief. She obviously has no grasp of how the judicial process works in this country. She had been asking her mates what they thought — and some people came back with guilty verdicts.

Not discussing trials is one of the most important things jurors are told and is essential for a fair trial.

This does defy belief as not only is it common sense not to discuss the details of a court case, it’s drilled in to people when they are called for jury service. To then go and post about it all on Facebook makes me wonder if this woman should have been allowed to sit on a jury in the first place. Surely jurors should be intelligent?

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One Response to “British juror holds Facebook poll to judge court case”

  1. John Lister:

    The judge should have ordered her status update to permanently read “…is in contempt of court.”

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