Courts Use Detailed Rules for Jurors to Shun Social Media, “Visiting Scene’


While jurors once were told not to discuss with others the cases they were hearing, warnings in today’s social media age have become much more explicit, reports NPR. Judge Travis Francis of Middlesex County, N.J., sounds like something out of a Best Buy catalog: “Do not use any electronic device such as the telephone, cell or smartphone, BlackBerry, iPhone, PDA computer, the Internet, email, any text or instant message service, any Internet chat room, blog or website such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter to communicate to anyone any information about the case.” Doing any research on your own is forbidden, as is “visiting the scene” virtually. “Jurors are specifically instructed not to use Google Earth or any other similar utility to visit the scene of an accident or crime,” Francis says. To many 21st century Americans, those limits might feel like solitary confinement. Paula Hannaford-Agor of the Center for Jury Studies in Williamsburg, Va., says that in an age when everyone’s used to instant digital information, “it’s very difficult and really counterintuitive for many jurors” to be told they must refrain from using the Internet to research a case.

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