Two stories today, which together are strangely reminiscent of the famous Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch where a member of the judiciary is displayed as being greatly ignorant of technology... in but one respect.
The first story relates to Justice Peter Openshaw who, during a terror trial at Woolwich Crown Court, admitted he didn't actually know what a website was. The fifty-nine old said that "I don’t understand the language. I don’t really understand what a website is.” Attempts to explain the concept to him by lawyers appearing at the trial failed. The is particularly problematic, as the trial concerned the use of IT and understanding it was central to the prosecution case. In contrast, some other members of the bench have proved to be slightly more... adept... with IT. The Times revealed today that a secret list is held by the Lord Chancellor containing the names of judges and magistrates who have abused their IT facilities - including those who have viewed pornography. The existence of the list was admitted due to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act - although the names of the specific judges involved have not been released.
Although these two events don't seem that significant in their own right, they raise an interesting question. A lot of work has now been produced on the impact new technology is having on both executives and legislatures. As yet (at least as far as I know) very much less research has been carried out on the impact that new technology is having on the third branch of government - the judiciary. There can be no doubt that the Internet, as it has for almost everyone else, will alter the environment they find themselves in.