I sat on a sort of jury once. It was was a General Court Martial; we behaved exactly as a jury but had additional powers of sentence. We found the defendant guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Unusually, the defendant didn’t have jury of his peers and yet served his sentence in a UK prison. I say this because I have a sense of how jury members behave. It’s mainly good.
I’ve watched the Vicky Pryce case, like everyone else, over the last two weeks. And I’ve been puzzled by the judge’s instruction that they should come back on Monday. I’ve also been struck by how everyone’s scared to discuss the case on social media – it’s like people are confused by the idea of public justice. We’ve no idea what the jury’s thinking – so why should there by any constraint? In some significant part, I think it’s fear in the mainstream media of Leveson. That’s not good.
But I’ve another thought. Does the judge think the jury isn’t watching telly or accessing the internet? Talking to loved ones, maybe? Or are they all in a posh jail?
Vicky Pryce, for example, is reportedly speaking at a Fabian Society event tonight. I don’t know if that’s actually happening or not, but I can’t help wondering if that sort of information might, in one way or another, affect the jury’s decision.