The Hiroshima Law Journal Volume 41 Issue 1
2017-06-23 発行

揺れる英米刑事陪審(2・完) : 陪審員によるインターネット不正使用と公正な裁判

Shaken criminal trial juries in the UK and US: jurors’ misuse of the internet and its impact on the right to a fair trial (2)
Kawabe, Yukio
When a juror accesses outside information, this creates problems with regard to the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution. This external information can contain inaccuracies as well as potentially prejudicing the juror and compromising the fairness of the trial. It deprives an accused of their opportunity to confront the evidence in an open court proceeding. In particular, a juror may be inclined to declare an accused guilty based on internet reports on the existence of an accused’s criminal record. an accused’s criminal background is often excluded from evidence because of its potential to prejudice the jury. The reason is that it has an influence on jurors, who may give weight to such evidence. Information on accuseds’ criminal background seen on the internet creates a danger of prejudice. Sometimes the information regards criminal complaints that have been retracted. In other instances, accuseds have been mistaken for a person with the same name. Information on the internet has directly influenced the conclusions of trials. When this information is allowed to reach members of a jury, the accused’s right to face a just trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is violated. Jurors have at times committed an injustice by making prejudiced statements on the internet before having weighed all evidence and deciding guilt. This again deprives the accused of appropriate procedure and a verdict by a just jury. Social media always offers a marketplace of opinions to jurors. For instance, five jurors participated with a trigger after a non-juror made a comment on Facebook about the accused’s guilt. A guilty verdict was returned for the accused several days later. The judge, who noticed a contact on the internet, held a hearing to interrogate the offending juror. The judge ultimately declared a mistrial and ordered a new trial. It is unusual that a juror faces punishment beyond dismissal. Judges tend to not want to punish jurors who conduct research and contribute to making a correct verdict. However, if such jurors remain unpunished, other jurors may continue to commit the same violations in future. It is only the tip of an iceberg. When the effective means for a fair trial are not obtained, the possibility of a just trial becomes