Some jurors in England and Wales confused about rule on internet use during a trial
Almost a quarter of jurors (23 percent) in England and Wales currently misunderstand the contempt rule in relation to internet use during a trial, according to preliminary research published in Criminal Law Review, a Thomson Reuters journal.
Among jurors who misunderstand the rule on internet use, 16 percent believe they cannot use the internet at all, even to check their own emails, while serving on a jury; 5 percent believe there is no restriction at all on their use of the internet during a trial; and 2 percent believe they can look for information about their case during the trial as long as it does not influence their judgment.
The findings follow a number of cases in recent years involving jurors’ inappropriate use of the internet, which have led to a number of juries being discharged, or trials abandoned, and in two cases have resulted in prosecutions and convictions of jurors for contempt. The team that led the research is urging the Law Commission to base any recommendations for reform of contempt of court in England and Wales on reliable, empirical evidence.