Juror Faces Jail for Friending Defendant

Woman guilty in UK's first contempt of court case involving Internet
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2011 2:56 AM CDT
Juror Joanne Fraill used Facebook to connect with the wrong person.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

(Newser) – A British juror who took empathy for the defendant a little too far may be going to jail for contempt of court. Joanna Fraill used Facebook to find and befriend a woman she had helped acquit on drug charges. Before the jury had reached a verdict on other defendants, the two chatted online about the jury's deliberations, causing the collapse of one of a complex series of trials estimated to have cost some $10 million, the Telegraph reports.

The trial was halted after the acquitted defendant reported the conversation to her lawyer. Fraill, who confessed to contacting the defendant and doing her own research on the Internet during the trial, suffered from depression and had become "emotionally involved" in the trial, her lawyer said, adding that the "phenomenon of social networking has the capability of having a corrosive effect on the trial process." The judge told Fraill that she faces a sentence of up to 2 years.

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