The Michigan Supreme Court has banned electronic communications by jurors during trial, including tweets on Twitter, text messages, and Google searches, reports the National Law Journal. The ruling, effective Sept. 1, requires judges to instruct jurors not to use any hand-held device, such as iPhones or BlackBerrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations.
The court acted in response to prosecutors’ complaints that jurors were getting distracted by their cell phones, smartphones and PDAs, in some cases texting during trial or digging up their own information about a case and potentially tainting the judicial process. Other states should take similar action, says Josh Marquis, a board member of the National District Attorneys Association. “The potential for jury tampering is unbelievable. All you have to know is a person’s cell number,” said Marquis, district attorney in Clatsop County, Or., who has seen text messages and Google searches by jurors taint his own cases.