This report provides a summary of the views of almost a hundred people who participated
in the virtual jury trial experiments conducted by JUSTICE in conjunction with AVMI (now
part of Kinly) in the summer of 2020. This is the third in a series of reports on the JUSTICE
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruption to court business. The
criminal justice system is said to be now facing a backlog of 40,000 cases that will be
difficult to clear. Some Crown courts have now opened for jury trials with social
distancing measures in place but this is not sufficient to manage existing demand or
begin to clear the backlog. The backlog has caused a number of serious problems.
These include defendants on remand being incarcerated for longer periods; increased
waiting times; risks of more abandoned prosecutions; increased stress and a lack of
work for the legal profession.
2. The purpose of the four experiments was to determine whether it is possible in a crisis
such as the one we are facing to hold ‘dispersed’ or virtual trials in which the
principles of fairness, accuracy of evidence and certainty can be met. In order to test
the case for virtual jury trials JUSTICE and a firm of technology experts (AVMI)
organised four virtual trial experiments between April-June 2020.
3. In virtual trials all the participants appear from their separate locations so that the
courtroom takes the form of a shared ‘public’ screen. A series of other secure virtual
rooms also exist behind this shared view of the virtual courtroom. These include a
virtual room for the defendant to consult with counsel and a jury deliberation room.
The platform that AVMI have designed for this experiment also allows documents to
be viewed on screen. Certain elements of the experimental design, such as the type of
case and the people involved, were consistent across all four trials, however, this was a
piece of action research where improvements were made between trials, culminating in
the creation of a physical jury hub.
4. The fourth trial with a physical jury hub was widely considered by the organisers to
be the most successful of the four experiments. There were far fewer technical
problems and all of the responsibilities of jurors regarding technical provision were
removed. These findings are in addition to the benefits outlined in the first report of
the pilot which suggested that the defendant being more central to deliberations on
screen that they would be in a physical court had a democratizing effect. This report
adds the voices of those who took part in each of the experiments and responded to a
questionnaire sent out by JUSTICE.
Teeder , WendMulcahy, LindaRowden, Emma
School of Architecture
Year of publication: 2020Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-06-30