On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
Solicitor Imprisoned For Disobeying Judge
In late April 2022 news emerged of a solicitor who had been carrying out her civic duty on a stint on jury service at York Crown Court. She had found herself selected to sit on a jury and hear one of the cases. During trials in the Crown Court jurors usually swear an oath to faithfully try a defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence heard exclusively in the case and nothing more. The judge hearing the case reinforced the swearing of the oath by giving a warning that the members of the jury should only consider the evidence heard in the case in the courtroom. He instructed them not to consider or take account of any other resources.
However, far and away from taking the judge’s advice into account, the solicitor seemingly took it upon herself to find out information on the case from external resources. Shocking as that behaviour from a solicitor was her unprofessional behaviour did not end there, In fact, the solicitor thought it may have been a good idea to decide to communicate to fellow members the findings of her search. This conduct was described by the judge as ‘undermining the course of justice.
As a direct result of the solicitor’s actions:
- The judge had no other option available but to terminate the entire trial
- Which had reportedly accrued a cost of £30,000 and
- A new trial was postponed and both parties were delayed in providing their testimony to the court for a further thirty-two weeks.
The judge during the court proceedings sentenced the solicitor to fifty-six days imprisonment. The judge told the solicitor that as her actions of conducting an internet search on an internet search engine, which rhymes with frugal, and communicating this information to them, there was a high probability of an incorrect being arrived at in the case. An aggravating factor in the mind of the judge whilst sentencing appears to have been the fact that as the holder of the office of solicitor, she was an officer of the court, enrolled in the prestigious role of solicitors, and was fully aware of the potential consequences of her behaviour. She was fully aware of how important instructions from the judge were and the implications if they were disobeyed. The time delay between the research conducted and when the relevant information was relayed to the rest of the jury members were also taken into account in the case. The solicitor has researched the devices, waited all night, and communicated with them the next morning.
This is not the end of the matter for the solicitor and she is due to be investigated and potentially sanctioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority over her conduct.
What Lessons Can Be Learned Here?
Anyone in the privileged position of being a solicitor must pay close attention to this case. If solicitors are called up for jury service they must
- refrain from making use of internet search engines to seek information about a case they are sitting on
- suppress the temptation of communicating with fellow jury members about any facts they have discovered
- try the case in line with their oath given at the start of the swearing-in. They should do this by faithfully trying the defendant and giving a true verdict according to the evidence. To reinforce this vow jurors should also act as instructed by the judge and only on the evidence submitted in the evidence provided in court.
- Not act in a way that puts the correct verdict in jeopardy and threatens the integrity of the justice system.
#ABV #DuncanLewis #EdwardsDuthieShamash #FreemansSolicitors #GTStewartimited #Hempsons #HpwardKennedy #ITNSolicitors #JanesSolicitors #ReedsSolicitors #RonaldFletcherBaker #ShearmanBowen&Co #SonnMacmllanWalker #StewartMillerSolicitors #AdviceWiseSolicitorsLimited #BLM
THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
 Rychlikova, M – Solicitors on jury service jailed for researching trial evidence – 29 April 2022 - Solicitor on jury service jailed for researching trial evidence | News | Law Gazette
 Johnson, Kristian – Foolish Juror who cause a collapse of child sex abuse trial worked for award-winning Yorkshire law firm – Yorkshire Live - Foolish juror who caused the collapse of child sex abuse trial worked for award-winning Yorkshire law firm - YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk)
 Connelly, T – Ex-Irwin Mitchell lawyer jailed for researching defendant in the trial she was serving as a juror – Legal Cheek - 3 May 2022 - Ex-Irwin Mitchell lawyer jailed for researching defendant in the trial she was serving as a juror - Legal Cheek
 BBC News – York Crown Court trial juror jailed over internet research – 28 April 2022 - York Crown Court trial juror jailed over internet research - BBC News