Many of us have witnessed the trouble that sporting and entertainment celebrities get into via social media. It seems that some people have a problem with staying off social media. Similarly, jurors are at risk of derailing justice if they defy instructions and share restricted information with friends and family via social media. Trials must be free from undue influence; they must exist within a bubble where only those taking part in the courtroom action are privy to what is going on. The instantaneous and open nature of digital communication makes it unsuitable for the arcane world of the legal system.
Staying Off Social Media: Challenges and Temptations
It is hard not to imagine that in reality wives and husbands do discuss the merits of a case when one of them is on jury duty. For some people, the temptation is just too much and they value their relationships more than the judicial system. If this restricted and sensitive information remains within that marriage bubble it probably does no real damage. However, if that information moves outside of that tryst through the loose lips of a spouse or partner to work friends, then things are looking rather shaky.
Social media serves the exchange of free information very well; it is an excellent news channel. The goings on inside of a courthouse is not free information, it is restricted information; and the participants within the trial must be protected from undue outside influence. Loose lips sink ships, as the old wartime cliché used to warn its community members. In much the same way, the good ship justice will be torpedoed by the free exchange of information pertaining to the guilt or innocence of those being tried.
Just imagine the Twitters and Facebook rants if the wider community had access to this highly sensitive information. Wikileaks would like to see the entire legal system an open book online I would imagine. Pinterest and Instagram could show pictures of child sexual abuse to their global audiences. Everything would then be trial by public opinion. Democracy at its finest mudslinging mob inspired vitriolic best.
The judicial systems in the West are not perfect, and they may seem old and outdated to those who have not really thought things through. The mob are not by nature deep thinkers, they lurch from one presumption to another. Lawyers and judges are members of an exclusive elite who argue and sit in judgement upon the transgressions committed by community members; they are specifically trained to do so. Jurors are not even amateurs, because they do not do it for the love it. They are conscripted into the service of the judicial system on a case by case basis. Democracy has no place within our legal system, excepting when the jury votes. Social media black-outs must continue for jurors, if we are to protect the sacrosanct nature of the law.