But 34-year-old academic Dr.Theodora Dallas couldn’t resist and told her fellow jurors during their deliberations that she had found some interesting information about one of the defendants on-line. She had googled “grievous bodily harm” and then added the defendant’s name, Barry Medlock, to her google search.
Dr. Dallas discovered a newspaper article that reported that Mr. Medlock had previously been accused, but acquitted of rape–information that did not come out at the trial. One of the other jurors advised a court usher of the internet information, and he informed the trial judge. After the judge investigated he immediately aborted the trial and discharged Dr. Dallas and the remaining jurors.
The Attorney-General launched contempt proceedings against Dr. Dallas who at the time was a psychology lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, England.
Three High Court judges found her guilty of contempt of the jury and the jury system and sentenced her to six months in jail with three months to be served in custody and the rest to be served under house arrest.
The judges declared that the damage she had caused the administration of justice was obvious and “misuse of the internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity and an effective custodial sentence is virtually inevitable.”
The Court acknowleged that Dr. Dallas had resigned her university position and put her academic career in the long-term into jeopardy, however, her deliberate actions could not be condoned.
Mr. Medlock was later convicted and jailed after a new trial.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang