Internet causing problems in court

The collapse of two trial sin England has been blamed on jurers conducting their own reserach into the case.  The collapse of these two trials has cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.

A manslaughter case in Newcastle was stopped after a juror sent the judge a print off from google maps of the crime scene along with a list of 37 questions about the case.  It emergeed that the juror in the case had visited the scene, taken his own photgraphs and even developed his own theories as to what might of happened.  Dale Patterson, 19, was found not guilty by the direction of the judge yesterday for the Manslaughter of Raymond Quigley.

A child abuse case was haulted at the Old Baily after it was descovered that a juror had conducted research on the internet into the accused (who had once been a nanny to a celebbrity).  In this case the judge dismissed the jury and ordered a re-trial.

This of course raises serious concerns about the impartiality of juries.  At the start of a trial the jury is instructed only to pay attention to the evidence heard in court and to only use this for the basis of its deliberations and resulting verdict.  The judge, Jude David Paget QC, has sent the file to the Attorney-General, Baroness Scotland QC, for a decision as to whether anyone should face charges of contempt as the judge expliaty said that the use of the internet to research the case was not allowed.

Judge Paget said that it was becoming “harder and harder” to try cases without prejudice because of the internet.  He went on to say that the cheif consideration must be the defendent’s right to a fair trial and I have to agree with him on that point.  Juries are there to reach a verdict upon the evidence heard in court and form a part of the defendent’s “right to a fair trial within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law” (European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, Article 6(1))

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