The criminal justice system centres on the notions of justice. It’s even in the title. There is an expectation, at least amongst lawyers, that justice cannot be delivered without a criminal trial. Yet developments in new technologies, in particular social media, threaten to create a discrepancy between the criminal trial and public expectations. A central component for any lawyer’s job is to uphold due process; loosely, to insist on a criminal verdict delivered through a fair and impartial trial. As part of this institutions such as the courtroom and the media must uphold the presumption of innocence. But what happens to the presumption of innocence if the defendant is filmed in the act of committing a criminal act? In these cases, which are happening more and more frequently, insisting that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty can fly in the face of what the public has seen online. Such situations can cause a discrepancy between public expectations and the rhetoric of the criminal trial.
Deviant Justice aims to explore instances where courtroom justice might not match public justice. This blog draws from my research on how social media might influence the criminal justice system. Because of the current lack of academic commentary on social media and it’s influence on crime, it will also document my experiences researching social media, considering various research methods for qualitatively analysing social media.
About the author (or the only time when I will write in the third person):
Rachel Gimson (me) has recently finished her (my) PhD in Law from the University of Sussex. Her thesis looked into the potential impact of social media ‘evidence’ on the role of the defendant and due
process. As part of her research she looked at the historical development of the defendant as a concept in both the domestic and international criminal trial, the media and social media commentary of the Boston Marathon bombers and the Lee Rigby killers and perceptions of Gaddafi’s guilt relating to accusations of war crimes during the Libyan civil war.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org