Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate with one another. The lack of strict, widespread regulation over the internet, whilst enabling more innovation and creativity, has however resulted in the erosion of traditional rules and practices.
Following the recent Twitter saga and its potentiality to undermine the allegedly infallible 'super-injunctions,' Facebook has come under scrutiny as a juror has been convicted of contempt of court for communicating with a defendant over the site
The issue has reintroduced the debate as to whether 'trial by jury' really is the best way to ensure that justice is properly served in the criminal trial. Aside from the potential for some jurors to invalidate months of meticulous work as well as waste millions of pounds, some even question whether jurors effectively participate in the task they are set. Evidence suggests that in large groups of 12, jurors are likely to be heavily influenced by dominant individuals within the group and contrary to their oath may not come to an impartial decision. The psychology department of the University of Portsmouth has advocated the splitting of juries into groups of four to deliberate, before they must come together for the final verdict, as this would enable greater discussion from all parties.
Whether a shake up to the format of juries will occur is yet to be decided. Nevertheless the case at issue sends a clear message out to jurors to take more responsibility in respecting the rules of this fundamental civic duty.
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