Jurors Ignore Judges’ Warnings, Use Social Media During Trials


Jurors who’ve grown accustomed to social networking on smartphones seem unimpressed by judges’ admonitions to avoid blogging, texting, and posting on Twitter.com in court and during deliberations, reports California Lawyer magazine. Incidents of willful disobedience–if not juror misconduct–seem to increase by the day. A judge in Michigan fined a juror $250, and ordered her to write an essay on the Sixth Amendment, for saying on her Facebook page-before the defense had presented its case-that she thought the defendant was guilty.

Five jurors in the corruption trial of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon friended one another on Facebook and continued to post comments about their jury service, even after being told not to by the judge. A juror in West Virginia failed to disclose during voir dire that she knew the defendant and had contacted him on MySpace after receiving her jury summons. The state Supreme Court overturned the defendant’s fraud conviction, becoming one of the first courts in the nation to base its juror-misconduct ruling on a person’s messages to a “friend” on a social networking site. Reuters Legal has reported that jurors’ Internet research, blog comments, and tweets have called into question at least 90 verdicts since 1999.

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