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Avoiding the perfect storm of juror contempt

Thomas, CA; (2013) Avoiding the perfect storm of juror contempt. Criminal Law Review , 6 Green open access

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Concern over juror contempt and improper conduct is one of the factors that prompted the Law Commission’s early review of Contempt of Court. This article argues that any reform of the law of contempt in relation to juries and jury trials should be based on rigorous and reliable empirical evidence, not anecdotal evidence, exceptional cases or untested assumptions about juries. It reports the first findings of recent research conducted with juries at Crown Courts examining juror understanding of contempt, awareness of recent prosecutions of jurors, willingness to report improper conduct, as well desire for deliberation guidance and written judicial directions. Based on empirical evidence, this article argues for a three-pronged approach to minimising juror contempt in the new media age. It also argues that calls for the removal or relaxation of s.8 of the Contempt of Court Act are misguided and based on a myth that the current law prevents detailed jury research.

Title:Avoiding the perfect storm of juror contempt
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version:http://www.sweetandmaxwell.co.uk/Catalogue/ProductDetails.aspx?productid=7139&recordid=478
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Laws

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