Weisenhaus: Courts must improve juror education on internet use during trials

Jul 26, 2016

by Doreen Weisenhaus with contributions by Rick Glofcheski and Yan Mei Ning (Expanded Second Edition, Hong Kong University Press 2014)

Hong Kong courts need to improve juror education and procedures to ensure that jurors do not use the internet for their own research during trials, Doreen Weisenhaus told The South China Morning Post in a July 25, 2016 article. The Department of Justice recently decided not to press charges against jurors in a criminal trial who allegedly breached contempt of court rules by collecting outside information from the internet, after Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal issued its first such ruling on this issue.

Weisenhaus said that courts all over the world, including in Britain, the US and Australia, had been grappling for years with how to control juror use of the internet. She recommended clearer guidelines and better educational materials in materials distributed and videos shown to jurors. “The increasing ease and commonality of using the internet in everyday life, especially with smartphones, make it difficult for citizens to ‘turn off’ this tendency while on jury duty,” she said.

“Hong Kong government to take no action against internet-using jurors — at least this time,South China Morning Post, July 25, 2016.

HKSAR v Chan Huandai, Court of Appeal ruling here.