uk: Jury’s out on the net generation

Can the jury system survive the internet? I’m putting the question a little more provocatively than did Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, last week, but I’m not being unfair to him. If the concerns he raised in his speech at the University of Hertfordshire have any validity – and I believe they have – the future of the jury system, as we know and cherish it, is in danger.Lord Judge has two concerns. He makes the general point that younger generations brought up with the internet are more accustomed to obtaining information visually than orally. It is widely accepted that they have a more limited attention span than older people. But being on a jury specifically and necessarily requires a lot of listening – to the evidence and cross-examination of witnesses, the speeches of prosecution and defence barristers and the judge’s summing-up, for five hours a day, often for several days, even weeks.

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