Juror found guilty of contempt for online chat with defendant

A juror in a UK trial contacts a defendant on Facebook, where they have a long chat about things. She is found guilty of contempt of court, as is the defendant.

I have an idea for some enterprising TV station. It's called "CSI: Facebook".

It will be a show in which each crime enjoys a socially networked aspect, something that is sure to suck in younger viewers who find the existing "CSI"s a little too old.

The idea came to me in the middle of the night after hearing that a juror in a UK drugs trial had a very nice Facebook chat with one of the defendants. Why would she do that?

Well, the reporting offered by so many institutions, including the Guardian, gives few clues other than that, perhaps, the juror, Joanna Fraill, was simply fascinated with the defendant, Jamie Sewart. She apparently told the court she felt "empathetic" with Sewart and found certain parallels in their lives.

Fraill and Sewart, in parallel, were found guilty of contempt of court and now face possible jail time. However, you might be wondering just what they chatted about.

CC MoneyBlogNewz/Flickr

Thankfully, there are transcripts of the Facebook chats (although it is unclear how they were obtained. Surely not through lax privacy settings). They read like an exchange between two friends who are very familiar with each other.

Here's a sample of Fraill Facebooking Sewart: "i know (defendant) from somewhere cant think wherre (sic)."

Or here's Sewart to Fraill: "no matter wat gary does i am glad he gonna come out soon x."

Yes, that seems to be a kiss you see there.

Behold Sewart to Fraill again: "whats happenin with the other charge??"

To which Fraill replies: "well thats how it started u lot have had me laffin crying omg."

The authorities seem to have uttered an "omg" when they discovered these peculiarly intimate chats. Indeed, the whole trial collapsed last year, with a $10 million charge added to the public purse.

Fraill doesn't seem to have merely chatted. She was additionally accused of using the Web to find out more about all of the accused, something the judge had expressly forbidden.

Some might, therefore, wonder about the efficacy of the jury system when events such as these cast such an intimate mirror on the workings of the human mind.

On "CSI:Facebook," we will reveal the full extent of the socially networked mind. Indeed, I am currently penning one episode in which the judge decides to dismiss the live jury and call 12 random Facebookers to deliver their verdict.

 

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