View Full Version : Web-savvy young make bad jurors because they cannot listen, says Lord Chief Justice

11-07-2008, 09:26 AM
Young people brought up with the internet are not used to listening for long periods and would not make good jurors, according to the most senior judge in England and Wales.

In a speech, Lord Judge of Draycote, the Lord Chief Justice, said it might be better to present information for young jurors on screens because that is how they were used to digesting information.

He said: "Most are technologically proficient. Many get much information from the internet. They consult and refer to it. They are not listening. They are reading.

"One potential problem is whether, learning as they do in this way, they will be accustomed, as we were, to listening for prolonged periods.

"Even if they have the ability to endure hours and days of sitting listening, how long would it be before some ask for the information on which they have to make their decision to be provided in forms which adapt to modern technology?

He said: "Our system of jury trials depends on 12 good men and women and true coming to court and listening to the case.

Orality is the crucial ingredient of the adversarial system.

"Witnesses speak and answer questions. Counsel speak and address the jury. Judges speak and give directions."

Currently information is provided on screens to jurors, such as in complex fraud trials, but "not without difficulty and with great expense", he said.

He added: "What about the defendant's oral testimony and child witness complaining of an indecent assault which the defendant adamantly denies?

"What process aimed at finding the truth between them, and enabling a jury to decide where the truth lies, will be in place in 25 years time? What will happen to our oral tradition? Should it, will it, be forced to change?"

Lord Judge also conceded that it was inevitable some jurors defy a judge's direction and make "private enquiries" into a case using the internet.

In one case a juror went online using a Blackberry-device during a rape case, causing the conviction to be quashed.

Lord Judge said that he did not have solutions to these concerns. But he suggested that in the future the courts system must be "capable of development and adaptable for the future".