Our esteemed guest blogger today is Mr. Adam Reece, who shares his considered thoughts on technology and jurisprudence.
Technophobes and social critics commonly decry the negative impacts of technology upon life. Ironically, Plato even gives writing a knock in his Phaedrus—perhaps rightly according to some. It is not unknown for social institutions to lag behind in their application of or adaptation to new technology. However, the speed at which technology is outpacing our judicial system’s ability to compensate is unsettling.
Our culture values researching things for ourselves, except when you serve on a jury. The New York Times recently reported that mistrials have resulted from the use of mobile devices by jurists in order to get information beyond that presented in the courtroom. It could be that mobile devices should be confiscated from jurors. Although, it may also be time to re-evaluate the sequestering of juries in the Information Age.
Should there be a compromise that would allow jurors access to Internet stations that only connect to reliable sites? (Sorry, Wikipedia). Can you blame the jury for not trusting lawyers when either the defense of the prosecution (or both) is obviously not telling the whole story?
More disturbing is the inability of jurors to follow spoken arguments, as one high judge has lamented. I don’t think any of us find comfort in thinking that jurors are “tuned out” while the case is being argued. It seems that the solution of implementing visual displays of the arguments, transcripts, etc., might be in order. However, it does feel a bit like we have lost something.