And so it came to pass, that a debate about the role of juries came out of nowhere.
Whatever we were expecting from the Huhne and Pryce trial (he pleaded guilty, she faces a retrial), it was not a discussion about the composition and function of juries. Points about reporting restrictions (the case has had many and some are still in force) perhaps, or about the scope of the curious “marital coercion” defence. But not about juries; that was a shock.
However, the Pryce jury’s questions prompted many responses outside of the courtroom.
The most detailed and fascinating of these responses was by Richard Moorhead, which should be read in full. The legal blogger Obiter J has set out a number of other links. My own contribution (the chief merit of which was the punning title) was at the New Statesman (and I also debate juries with Joshua Rozenberg, who did a misconceived and illiberal piece on juries, in the Observer tomorrow).
I am actually no great fan of juries. But they are better than the alternative, and their questions – however daft – should always be encouraged and not ridiculed.
For me, what was most interesting about the Pryce jury questions was how a combination of in-court tweeting and outside-court blogging led to an immediate and interesting public debate about juries in general.
For, in a week when it emerged that the Guardian law page is to become a zombie, automated site without dedicated editorial staff, the speedy, varied and relatively informed response to the Pryce jury questions shows that legal tweeting and blogging is now, in effect, the standard form of legal commentary on developments in the news. This is just as well, as soon there will be no full-time legal or court correspondents on any national paper.
But is legal blogging and tweeting really any adequate replacement for full-time legal journalism? On that the jury is still out…