As reported in the Herald Scotland , the following is what a juror in the Sheridan trial wrote on Facebook on 4 January 2011, three weeks before sentencing commences (hint: they are best read with a ned/chav nasally accent in mind):-
“hi tommy i was one off youre jurers.
hubby is 1000% behind you and so am i dawl ok i really think strong for you dawl and youre going too appeal against these idiots.”
[i’ll be] at court on the 26january too support you all the way ok pal”
Now, there are a few slight problems with this. They are as follows:-
1. off -> of
2. youre -> your
3. jurers -> jurors
4. 1000% -> 100%
5. dawl -> doll
6. Full stop after “dawl”
7. think strong -> think strongly
8. youre -> you’re
9. too -> to
10. too -> to
11. way ok pal -> way.
12. Publishing comments -> NOT PUBLISHING ANY COMMENTS AT ALL.
In addition to the grammatical nightmare that was her facebook posting, the juror concerned also revealed how she and others had voted, described fellow jurors as “pure b******s” (judging by the number of asterisks she may actually have spelt this long word correctly) and she also identified where she sat during the trial.
Section 8(1) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 reads as follows:-
8. Confidentiality of jury’s deliberations.
(1) […][It] is a contempt of court to obtain, disclose or solicit any particulars of statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast by members of a jury in the course of their deliberations in any legal proceedings.
Implications of the juror’s comments on facebook
Clearly, the juror should not have disclosed or published any such comments regarding jury deliberations, whether or not within a social media site such as facebook. Given that such comments may be considered to be contempt of court, the juror potentially faces a custodial sentence despite removing the post from facebook days later. Although a prison sentence is unlikely, the comments are likely to be brought to the attention of the judge who presided over the Sheridan trial, Lord Bracadale. However, there should be no effect on sentencing or the Sheridan trial itself.
One might envisage Lord Bracadale’s reply to these comments on his own facebook page as follows:-
Lord Bracadale: lmao
Why? Because the posting of the comments by itself is a flagrant disregard for the rule of law, whether or not the juror had to sit through weeks of tedious evidence about Tommy Sheridan’s life. It also shows flagrant disregard for the English language. Further, it reveals the true extent of democracy with jurors being selected from all walks of life, which, it should be clarified, is a good thing.
Notably, this issue arises just two weeks after the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, published interim guidance on using social media in court, although that guidance was aimed at journalists reporting eg from twitter during the course of a trial.
It is to be welcomed that the comments have been removed, but their digital footprint on the Internet will not be the only consequence, dawl.
Further articles on the Sheridan trial on ScotsLawBlog also worth reading / discussing:-