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tas news 7sd pageheader 2019

Juror education on social media use

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The Tasmania Law Reform Institute is urging the judicial system to improve education for prospective jurors around social media use.

Experts say jurors often struggle to get the balance right and it's becoming increasingly difficult to insulate them from external influences that may inappropriately impact their ability to do their job.

“Education by Tasmanian courts is key to ensuring jurors understand why they are being asked to limit their internet use and to encourage self-regulation during the period of the trial for the benefit of the accused, and the justice system more generally,” report author Jemma Holt said.

Ms Holt said jurors who conduct research outside the trial process, intentionally or unintentionally read news or social media commentary about the trial, or who publish about the trial on social media, can undermine these protections.

“There is no way of effectively segregating jurors from the wider online community because of the prevalence of internet-connected smartphones.”

“Many jurors simply don’t appreciate the consequences of such behaviour in the context of their role and obligations as a juror. It is for the courts to adapt to meet these new challenges,” she said.