This is a frothy enough piece for the po-faced Guardian. But it's another foul-smelling drip in an insidious campaign to erode confidence in jury trial. It has all the Guardian's most odious characteristics; purported concern for the little guy, wrapped up in snobbish condescension. Jurors, it seems, are ordinary flawed people who can't be trusted to understand a case, follow simple instructions or even care about doing justice. So who can be trusted? The journalist is sophisticated enough not to say it openly (knowing the roars of contemptuous laughter that would ensue) but the article implies that only a paid functionary of the state will do.
Such people, in the alternative universe inhabited by the Guardian and its readers, are above corruption, free of all personal agendas, unbiased, all-wise and all-knowing. They can be trusted to do justice.The people cannot. Yeah, right.
The internet is not "destroying" anything. It's just a quicker way to access and exchange information. Had the Guardian already existed when the printing press was discovered, one imagines members of the Scribes' Guild protesting the jeopardy to their ancient craft and quilling their fears that information would spread too quickly to be properly explained to the most vulnerable members of society.
The real spirit of the Guardian peeps through in this passage;
"...the ever-more unrestrained behaviour of jurors, compared with their more obedient counterparts of yesteryear, continues to cause concern..."
Obedience. That's what the Guardianistas truly hanker for, like the most stereotypical Colonel Blimp of old. At the masthead of this foul authoritarian rag, should be a banner that reads "Do what you're told; we know better."
A juror without the internet could stop at the public library on his way home and do the same research. It would be harder work, yes. But he could do it. It would be in breach of the rules and against the judge's explicit directions. Juries are no more compromised by the internet making it easier to break the rules than they were when jurors exchanged their bikes for cars and so could get to the library quicker. Why are print journalists such Luddites? It couldn't be perceived self-interest, could it? Surely not from the selfless, right-on journalists of the Guardian at least. Or is it just that anything that makes citizens more difficult to control is a threat to their political agenda? Rather like jury trial, in fact. Or public inquests.
Far more telling than the predictable guff that makes up most of the article is the section headed "...a young juror writes..." The criticisms of the facilities and atmosphere in England's courts ring true. Yes, they are "in the dark ages" and provide "government-issue pie, chips and beans" in a (God help us) "canteen". That is because they are run by the state, young juror! The lesson you should take from your experience is not that justice itself (an ancient concept, it's true) is old-fashioned and primitive, but that those would be the best adjectives for everything in Britain (except police surveillance equipment and weaponry) if the Guardian ever gets its way.