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Sheridan trial juror attempts to comment on facebook

by WardBlawg on January 11, 2011

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):-

Facebook Image

Facebook Image

“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.

The Law

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.

Comment

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:-

Tommy Sheridan to sue News of the World

HMA v Tommy Sheridan | Scots Law Snhookered?

WardBlawg

WardBlawg

Legal Blogger at WardBlawg
+Gavin Ward is the founder of WardBlawg, Director of YouBlawg Limited and Operations Director at Moore Legal Technology Limited, specialising in helping law firms, lawyers and businesses grow their businesses online and aiming to help get great legal content published and shared across the web. Gavin created this law blog or ‘blawg’ to aim to contribute useful updates, thoughts and advice to help law firms, businesses and the legal profession in the UK and across the world succeed both online and offline.
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  • Fiona Campbell

    I think this highlights the dangers in the jury system we have.

    I can understand why we have to recruit jurors from all walks of life but how can we be sure they will fully understand the complicating legal proceedings.

    Lawyers have to attend University and have experience before prosecuting or defending a case, the Sheriff or Judge has to have years of experience before sitting on the bench yet any person can be selected to be a juror. This is regardless of education and perhaps the ability to understand the proceedings.

    Perhaps time for Professional Jurors……

  • Pingback: RODNEY KING ENGAGED TO JUROR FROM HIS BRUTALITY TRIAL | Article Depot()

  • Simon McHooley

    This just goes to highlight how superior Scottish need to develop our own (and recogonised) branch of English. I am absolutley disgusted that someone of this low level of intelligence could ever be allowed to deliberate in a criminal case.

    What we need is for the Polis to be able to make summary sentencing judgements on the spot. In the worst case the death penalty would be allowed.

  • Charlotte Platt

    Wow, Simon McHooley, you really do think you’re something special huh?

    She didn’t understand contempt of court, explain it in more detail. I agree we probably should try to ensure jurors understand it better, you see a lot of confussion in courts.

    We draw from all walks of life so we have a group of peers, not a group of select “superiors”, it’s the basic principle of law.

  • http://www.employmentlawliverpool.co.uk/solicitors-liverpool.html ELL

    “She didn’t understand contempt of court, explain it in more detail. I agree we probably should try to ensure jurors understand it better, you see a lot of confussion in courts.

    We draw from all walks of life so we have a group of peers, not a group of select “superiors”, it’s the basic principle of law.”

    Agreed with Charlotte Platt. We cannot have a state which employs only the most intellectual of people with large salaries to become jurors, not just in Scotland or the UK but the rest of the world. Having said that, yes, is it also important that jurors understand their responsibilities, although I’m glad to say that this instance appears to be exceptional and, from experience, courts generally do a good job of communicating the rules for jurors

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