Jury trials, the Internet and human behaviour

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Read my article at New Matilda responding to concerns that the Internet threatens the integrity of the jury trial system.

I have an article at New Matilda about the Internet and jury trials. I wrote it in response to a speech by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales that raised concerns about jurors using the Internet to research and discuss cases.

I argue that while advances in information technology might make it easier for jurors to do this, it’s important to recognise that jurors do similar things without the Internet – visiting crime scenes, discussing cases and otherwise failing to be the compliant, passive information receivers that our legal system assumes they will be. This is definitely a problematic issue, but it’s an issue of human behaviour at least as much as it is one of technology. The legal system needs to confront the mismatch between its assumptions and reality about how jurors can and will behave, and would need to do so even if the Internet didn’t exist.

Typing cat
Image credit: Flickr user Matt Law; used under a Creative Commons licence.

You can read the article here. This is my first article for New Matilda, but with the announcement that the site will continue to publish throughout 2011, look out for more of my work over there in the year to come.