Does The Internet Generation Make For Bad Jurors?

from the moving-ahead-with-times dept

The Lord Chief Justice in the UK has suggested that the internet generation aren’t very good on juries because they’re more used to reading information on a screen, rather than listening. That’s a bit misleading. Just because people are used to reading lots of information or consuming it off of a screen, it doesn’t preclude their ability to listen live. However, the suggestions to potentially upgrade the tools for jurors, such as by providing them screens with info, does make some sense. It could make it much easier to present a lot of information to a jury in a more manageable fashion, rather than requiring them to just listen. But, even so, it does seem a bit extreme to suggest that younger jurors are simply unable to listen in the jury box and follow the details of a trial.

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Comments on “Does The Internet Generation Make For Bad Jurors?”

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Moz says:

Perhaps the judge is boring?

I think it’s as least as likely that “them young folk ain’t got no respect”. When faced with days of tedious puffery from starched oiks in funny costumes perhaps younger people decline to play the game? I wonder if that judge in particular finds that older people are better at pretending to stay awake while he talks?

Of course, if the “I’m going to vote for Palin coz she’s pretty” generation is in the jury all bets are off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Perhaps the judge is boring?

I don’t think that’s a generational issue. In my state there were a number of women of all ages who voted in our current (horrid, IMHO) governor because he had better hair than the incumbent. Actually, our incumbent did have pretty bad hair… but as a deciding factor in the vote? Really??

Back on topic, perhaps it really represents a shift in the learning style of younger generations; because they are so used to having information presented visually, they are better able to retain that than information presented aurally. I know I’ve always been that way, and I was raised on computers – but I’m not ruling out the possibility that I’m just weird, of course. ^_^

Old Fashioned says:

Downward Spiral

It’s because a generation of humans who take in so much information are tired of hearing everything, that they don’t want to hear something that’s already said.

They just don’t care.
Apathy is setting in.

If it’s a murder trial or a shoplifting trial; somebody else’s problem, why should anybody be concerned with it or them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: why do you care??

I think you are missing the point. He’s not saying anything about American values here, nor is he dissing other’s values either. I think you’re having a knee jerk reaction to someone saying something negative (and has details to back it up) about where you (maybe?) come from and don’t like when outsiders say anything critical about your country.

NullOp says:


We’ll probably have to move to using forensic animation tools to get juries to understand what happened in a crime. Currently those tools explain what happened as far as the physics go but could they be used to dissect the crime in such a way jurors would see how things really played out. Personally, I think jurors would vote for the version they liked the best thinking it was sort of like the academy awards.

Spytrx says:

There is such a thing as a good juror?

And why are they complaining again? First they complain that there are not enough jurors, then that the intellect of the average leaves a lot to be desired (a intelligent person apparently knows how to avoid jury duty), and now this!

Yes, there are fundamental flaws in the system – for a start we are still using the same language in courts we used 200 years ago. What modern person can keep up with that? This court system is all stuffy, formal, and cloaked in traditions that predate even the laws that are long outdated yet still enforced today.

How about we cut the crab and tell it like it is – the whole system sucks and no person with any integrity wants to be part of it. Time to throw the wigs away, stop the old-boys-club justice system that is failing the country and dish out some real sentences (instead of going after trivial and nonsensical cases)

Dan says:

Juror innocence or legalese

I would have guessed they would worry finding jurors that have not been previously exposed to the case.

I’ll bet it’s a case of jurors can’t understand legalese. So what? The whole point of a jury is to protect everyone from legalese.

If a lawyer can’t boil things down to something a layman can understand, either the underlying law is a bad one, or they have a poor case against the defendant to begin with.

sumgi says:

Attention Spa...WTF!!

I don’t think the problem here is that the net jurors know too much, it’s that the new generation has trouble sitting through a movie or show and operates on clips. Now put that person in a situation where they have to sit in the same room for hours and listen intently to the subject matter on which the defendants life may depend? Yeah I can see where internet folk would make bad jurors.

Rather_Notsay (profile) says:

Skill sets have changed

In the olden days, when nobody could read, people were very good at listening to long discussions and remembering what was said. The part of the brain that listened and remembered got exercised from birth and was well developed.

We now gather a lot more of our information visually, so that has crowded the listening and remembering portion. It’s not a matter of being lazy or stupid, it’s a matter of being wired differently in response to different stimuli.

This is actually better because the visual pathways have a lot greater bandwidth than the auural pathways, so there’s more capacity to absorb information by reading than by listening.

Unfortunately, the legal system still treats jurors as though they are illetrate peasants who have to have everything read to them. It’s not only a waste of time, it’s counter-productive.

Of course, most lawyers WANT illiterate peasants because they’re easier to snow.

opit (profile) says:

Juror quality

There are going to be many ‘problems’ with younger jurors besides them being more easily bored out of their gourd by bullshit : can you honestly credit Fox viewers with that problem ?
I’ll go with the idea that learning focus and ability has changed : that conversational skillsets are comparatively underdeveloped.
Then too…are the jurors ignorant of the facts of the case and/or of the state’s agenda ?
Any media hog is going to miss his ‘fix’ too.

Rather_Notsay (profile) says:

Re: The CSI generation

It’s not just CSI. Thirty years ago the local DA came around to my high school. Among his anecdotes was a burglary trial that ended in a hung jury, 11-1 for conviction. The perp had used latex gloves, which were found at the scene. There were no fingerprints lifted the gloves because it’s not possible. The one juror voting for acquittal had seen seen an episode of “Columbo” where he had lifted fingerprints from latex gloves, and concluded that the DA was trying to railroad an innocent man.

Anonymous Coward says:

I served on an jury in the UK several months ago.

The trial lasted three days, and we heard extensive testimony from four individuals.

As I recall, the “jury information pack” contained a collection of photographs. I maybe misremembering that, and it’s entirely possible the photos (presented as evidence at the trial) didn’t actually make it out into the jury deliberation chambers and we actually didn’t have anything with us from the coutroom apart from our own notes.

Now, in this trial, the guy was guilty as all hell, the lack of evidence was a key point in the prosecution’s case, and the defense lawyer so comedically incompetent that several people remarked that they suspected we were actually involved in a “reality TV” production, so it’s possible that there wasn’t a huge amount of extra documentation that would have helped. But they could at least have included a transcript of the various testimonies.

In answer to LBD’s reply 30, there’s no jury pool selection in the UK. 200 or so people wait as the main, general jury pool for two weeks of jury service (not sure of the time. There was a massive screw-up on the jury pool records during my time). When a trial starts, 15 people go into a waiting chamber otside the courtroom, they all walk into court, 12 of them get selected at random. The 12 stay, and the other 3 head off back to jury pool.

Michael (user link) says:

Internet Generation

It could be that Internet Generation jurors can be less swayed by emotion, than by facts. There is no doubt that the trial system would be better served with technology in place to assist jurors during deliberation. The only drawbacks would be older jurors not comfortable with technology and getting courts to switch over. Considering their US can’t even sort out their election process with technology I don’t see this happening.

Suz says:


We really can’t win. First we get berated because we get all our information from TV (which of course means that we lose the ability to read well) and then we get our information from reading on the internet (which as pointed out above, means we can’t listen or watch anymore). Never mind that people currently listen to podcasts and books on tapes which require aural concentration.

Seems like the judge is yet another old fogey complaining how in his day he went uphill in the snow both ways with no shoes, carrying 20 lbs. of books and his brother on his back, all with a smile on his face and a tune on his lips.

You would think people would be glad that reading as a way of obtaining information is continuing to be used. The fact remains that some people take in information in different ways: visually, textually and aurally and that none of these methods are better or worse than others, just more appropriate on some occasions than others.

cheap treadmill (user link) says:

Internet Generation Cheap Treadmill

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plastic injection molding (user link) says:

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When the expertly grilled, incredibly tender beef fillet finally made its way to the table, even Holly—a staunchly dedicated white meat How’s China printing eater—couldn’t help but finish her portion.

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