No Search Results in Fairness: Addressing Independent Juror Research in the 21st Century

33 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2019

Date Written: September 1, 2017


The right to a fair trial is one of the fundamental pillars on which the criminal justice system stands. In the digital age of the 21st Century that pillar has increasingly come under siege due to the rise of the Googling juror. In light of the recent proposals by the Law Commission to address this problem, this paper does two things. It begins by investigating the reasons why jurors conduct research in the digital age, before proposing methods to prevent jurors from undertaking independent research. This paper argues that jurors are researching in greater numbers than in the past due to cognitive changes to our brains in the digital age. It examines how humans use the Internet as a transactive memory system, our need for instantaneous knowledge, and people’s reliance on the Internet for everyday needs. Given these findings, the paper argues that the Law Commission’s proposals are insufficient; to deal with the problem the judicial system must modernise. This paper puts forward three proposals: deploying more technology in the courtroom, implementing comprehensive system of judicial education, and empowering jurors to ask more questions. It finally concludes that if the judicial system modernises, trial by jury can and should persist.

Keywords: Contempt of court; Fair trial; Juries; Juror research; Transactive memory system

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Battell-Wallace, Oscar, No Search Results in Fairness: Addressing Independent Juror Research in the 21st Century (September 1, 2017). Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper , Available at SSRN: or

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