Juror faces jail for Facebook chat with defendant

June 14th, 2011 in Technology / Internet

(AP) -- A British juror will be sent to jail for discussing a drug and corruption trial with a defendant on Facebook, a judge said Tuesday.

Justice Igor Judge told Joanne Fraill - the first juror in Britain to be convicted for using the Internet during a trial- that she would get a prison term when she is sentenced later in the week. The maximum sentence for contempt is two years in jail

say Fraill and Jamie Sewart communicated on the social networking site during the trial last year, with Sewart asking Fraill for details of the jury's deliberations.

Sewart, 34, was acquitted at that trial but later charged with contempt.

Fraill pleaded guilty to contempt, acknowledging that she communicated with Sewart and also researched the case online while serving on the jury.

According to The Guardian newspaper, in one exchange Sewart asked Fraill how deliberations were going and Fraill replied: "Cant get anyone to go either no one budging pleeeeeese don't say anything cause jamie they could all miss trial."

Defense lawyer Peter Wright said 40-year-old Fraill was "distraught at what she had done, wholly contrite and remorseful."

He said she contacted Sewart because she felt the two had a lot in common.

"Her conduct, though reprehensible, was not calculated or designed by her to subvert the trial process, although it is conceded that that was an inevitable consequence of it," Wright said.

Sewart had denied contempt but was found guilty Tuesday by judges at London's High Court.

While Fraill is going to prison, Sewart was told she would receive a suspended because she has a young child, from whom she was separated during her original trial

The panel of three judges also will hear an appeal by one of the convicted defendants, who wants his sentence overturned on the grounds of jury misconduct.

in British trials are warned not to talk to anyone about their case, or to research it on the Internet.

The attorney general's office said the case was Britain's first contempt prosecution involving use of the Internet by a juror.

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"Juror faces jail for Facebook chat with defendant." June 14th, 2011. http://phys.org/news/2011-06-juror-facebook-chat-defendant.html