“Facebook juror” Joanne Fraill will be making her next set of friends at the state penitentiary.
Well, at a British prison at least. Yes, the woman we wrote about on Tuesday who was serving on a jury in a drugs case and had contacted an acquitted defendant while deliberation about her co-defendants was ongoing has received an eight-month sentence. It is likely she will be eligible for parole after serving four months, subject to good behavior.
The defendant, Jamie Sewart, has received a two-month sentence suspended for two year, a decision based on her having a young child. (We incorrectly reported it was Fraill whose sentence was likely to be suspended.)
The judge in the contempt case (yes, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge) said the sentence reflected the fact that Fraill had directly breached both her oath as a juror and the instructions given in the drugs case. Those instructions were reportedly made particularly clear given that the case followed two aborted trials of the same defendants.
The solicitor general, who represented the government in the contempt case, said the fact that the communication took place over the Internet should make little difference, noting that a juror discussing a case with a defendant through any means of communication would be equally likely to constitute contempt.
Of course, for that to lead to prosecution, the communication needs to both be discovered and be provable, something that’s a lot easier with Facebook messages than a face-to-face discussion.
Indeed, The Guardian newspaper has now printed a full transcript of a Facebook chat between the pair.
(Picture credit: Flickr user Still Burning)