Participation in Social Media by Potential Jurors

Greg Barns, Kaylene Downey


This article examines the issue of the impact media publicity in a criminal trial context given the unprecedented reach of pre-trial commentary on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The paper considers how courts have responded to these phenomena, with reference to a particular criminal trial in New South Wales in 2014 when a well-known actor was subjected to an extraordinary level media frenzy following his arrest for sexual offences.   Relevant to this and other high profile cases is whether jurors can act impartially in the face of relentless pre-trial commentary and publicity and whether courts should simply rely on selected jurors to remove themselves from participation in the trial if their impartiality is compromised. The question is posed as to whether it is timely to consider allowing the prosecution and defence to investigate juror participation in pre-trial social media commentary during the jury selection process. 

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