Lord Chief Justice says the internet generation could be unsuitable as jurors
The internet generation is no longer accustomed to listening for prolonged periods and this means they could be unsuitable as jurors. This is the opinion of the new Lord Chief Justice, Sir Igor Judge, given in his first speech to the University of Hertfordshire and reported in the Times newspaper. He said that, although many young people were technically proficient and obtained much information from the internet, they were not listening, but 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", said Lord Judge. Even if they were able to endure hours and days of sitting listening, Lord Judge wondered how long it would be before some of them asked for the information to be provided in forms that adapt to modern technology. Things could become even worse in the future: "I cannot begin to imagine the extent of the changes which lie ahead", he said, adding that access to the internet by jurors posed a further problem. Judges now gave directions to jurors not to look at the internet in connection with the trial. He assumed that these directions were being accepted and obeyed, although individual jurors could not be prevented from making their own "private inquiries". There were also problems raised by the possibility of jurors coming across information that was published on the internet before a trial began. In one rape case, for example, there had been evidence of internet use and a conviction was quashed. He said he had no solutions for these problems, but he considered it "entirely unacceptable" to check the technological equipment belonging to an individual juror to ensure that a judge’s directions had not been ignored.