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Facebook trial

"Trial by X Factor": increasing evidence of jurors using Facebook to discuss active court cases

In one case in the UK, a multi-million pound trial collapsed after a juror communicated with a defendant on Facebook.

A JUROR IN the UK is alleged to have sent messages to a defendant on Facebook and will this week face contempt of court charges following the collapse of a multi-million pound drug trial last week.

The first case of its kind comes as The Times (subscription) reports on the growing evidence of jurors in criminal trials using the internet to research and discuss cases sometimes even communicating with the people involved in the legal proceedings.

In this one particular case a juror and an acquitted defendant will face contempt of court charges after they communicated via Facebook, a move which eventually led to the collapse of the trial that ran for six months and cost some £6 million (€6.8 million).

The Times  says it has evidence of internet activity where jurors say that they intend to find a defendant guilty, give details of deliberations, and even run online polls to help to make a decision. One lawyer warns that Britain is headed for “trial by X factor” and that the situation is a “potential timebomb”.

Read more from Frances Gibb and Billy Kenber in today’s Times (subscription required) >

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