Sunday, December 14, 2008

The jury is out (but online)

I heard a news story on the radio the other day about a high-profile case that was being reviewed, among other things, because jurors were thought to have been accessing the internet when they were supposed to have been sequestered.

This is sort of a dog-that-didn't bark situation. The net and web have been around for a long time now, with their potential for tainting jurors who are supposed to be isolated. You'd think there would have been more and bigger stories about it by now. Evidently, though, it's not a major problem. Take your pick of possible reasons:
  • Most trials are over quickly. Relatively few require actually sequestering jurors.
  • Web access is just the latest in a long line of potential leaks. Cell phones, (not to mention ordinary phones), have been a problem for years now.
  • Jurors are generally good about following instructions.
  • Jurors not communicating with the outside world is fundamentally a human problem, not a technological one.
What I found really interesting, though, was how the potential taint came to light: via email. And of course, the lawyers involved preface any discussion of this with "If these emails are genuine ..."

There's your barking dog -- email problems, particularly the ease of spoofing email, are a much bigger deal than the a web connection being available when it shouldn't.

1 comment:

earl said...

This is just a test to see if my google account works now. Incidentally, the captcha in the "reset password" department was almost too strong for me.