Jurors: Researching online? Go to jail!

(También en Español)

News of Note: Jurors: leave the information age—or go to jail

An English court has sentenced a juror to six months in prison for contempt of court after she performed research on the Internet and forced the abandonment of a criminal trial.

Psychology lecturer Theodora Dallas, 34, was a member of the jury in the trial of Barry Medlock, accused of causing grievous bodily harm. She looked up certain information related to the trial on the Internet, came across information concerning Medlock, and told her fellow jurors what she had found. One of them informed the judge, causing the judge to abandon the trial. Medlock was later retried and found guilty.

In order for a jury to be unbiased they must be ignorant? The entire nature of a jury is rooted in subjectivity. But how is a decision less biased when the jurors only have access to information concerning their specific case? I believe access to information is a human right. Because any juror could do outside research without telling anyone, help expand their own perspective, and easily get away with it, how much longer will this rule enforcing ignorance be  justified or realistic? It isn’t a far stretch to say that our legal system has a few holes; this might be a good place to start making some improvements. Let us know what you think, I’m eager to hear other people’s take on this issue.

Jack Diehl