On June 14, 2011, the London High Court found a juror in contempt of court for making contact with a defendant on trial in a drug case in Manchester, England. The juror conversed with the defendant on Facebook over one of the pending charges while the jury was still deliberating at the close of trial in August of last year because she felt “empathetic” and saw “considerable parallels” between their lives. The defendant also added the juror as a Facebook friend. The aborted trial was one of a series of four trials estimated to have cost £6 million and had run for 10 weeks.
Not unlike courts in the United States, jurors are instructed to rely only on the evidence and arguments presented at trial and their own preexisting common sense. They are warned to refrain from talking to anyone about the case and doing any research about it, including on the internet, during the trial. For the offense, the court sentenced the juror to eight months behind bars. [Guardian] The case is believed to be the UK’s first prosecution for contempt of court involving use of social media.