Folklaw loves getting out of the office and pressing the flesh, so it was delighted to attend the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Incorporated (AIJA) Conference on the issues and challenges for judicial administration.
While many of the topics covered were extremely meaty and prescient, the criminal lawyers and barristers in attendance also showed that they haven't lost their sense of humour, despite often having regular contact with hardened cops and crims. JamesWood QC, one of the attendees spied by Folklaw, could certainly testify that it is often hard to differentiate between the two.
The Welcome Address at the Conference was provided by Federal Court Chief Justice Patrick Keane and NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, with the latter stating that prior to becoming chief justice he was immune for 28 years from the problems confronting criminal justice, even though "some of his clients probably deserved it".
Justice Keane then took to the podium once more, asking delegates to be "prompt" in getting to the next session, noting that "some judges, particularly from Queensland, wander around like brown cows".
Folklaw duly trooped off at light speed to avoid the Wrath of Keane, and attended the illuminating session on challenges for the jury system and a fair trial in the 21st Century.
Barrister Peter Lowe presented this topic, and while he didn't provide any insights on what it was like to have Pauline Hanson as a client, he did provide numerous examples of instances when jurors have inappropriately used social media.
With the lawyers in the room not knowing whether to laugh or cry, Lowe recounted many a jury tale of woe, including a juror who was dismissed from a trial in the UK for posting on Facebook that, "I don't know which way to go, so I'm holding a poll", and a juror from Detroit whose enthusiasm for the role got the better of her, as could be gleaned by her Facebook post which said, "Actually excited for duty tomorrow. It's gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY".
The juror was found guilty of contempt of court and fined $US250.
Folklaw recommends that all jurors should watch 12 Angry Men before commencing duty. However, as wiser heads such as Lowe's warn, even this Hollywood classic features "serious juror misconduct" as the late, great, Henry Fonda's character sources his own evidence to convince the other jurors on a murder trial to return a not guilty verdict.
Best to leave it to the lawyers.
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