Jurors’ Technology Use “Wreaking Havoc” On Trials


The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials, upending deliberations and infuriating judges, says the New York Times. Last week, nine jurors in a major federal drug trial in Florida admitted doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge's instructions and centuries of legal rules. Judge, William Zloch declared a mistrial, a waste of eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers. “We were stunned,” said defense lawyer Peter Raben. “It's the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

On Monday, defense lawyers in the federal corruption trial of former Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Fumo demanded that the judge declare a mistrial because a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The juror told his readers that a “big announcement” was coming on Monday. The judge let the deliberations continue, and the jury found Fumo guilty. His lawyers plan to use the Internet postings as grounds for appeal.

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