Thursday, March 19, 2009

Web 2.0 Technologies Cause Headaches, Lead to Mistrials in the United States

According to a March 17, 2009 New York Times article entitled As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up:
"The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges (...)"

"Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their cellphones, they can look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps, violating the legal system’s complex rules of evidence. They can also tell their friends what is happening in the jury room, though they are supposed to keep their opinions and deliberations secret."
Writing in the Wisconsin Law Journal, Anne Reed comments that people had better get used to the situation:
"... you're wasting your energy if you think you can stop social networking jurors. Go to and search 'jury duty'; at any given moment during the business day you'll find people tweeting from courthouses all over America."
In her Deliberations blog, Reed has a piece from March 18, 2009 about the phenomenon south of our borders:
"Over the last two years we've accumulated posts on jurors who blog (lots of those, actually), jurors who read blogs, jurors on Facebook and other social networking sites, jurors on Twitter, jurors researching the case on the Internet, jurors who comment on news stories, how to ask jurors about social networking, how to find jurors' on-line writing, why it matters, and how to deal with problems when they arise. The way things are going lately, there will probably be many more."
[Source: WisBlawg - University of Wisconsin Law Library]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:22 pm


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