Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Juror (Mis)Behavior in the Information Age

LLRX.com published an article last Sunday on Juror Behavior in the Information Age:

"While the lure of tweeting or doing a Google search or updating a Facebook profile seems all but irresistible, these upheavals are reshaping the social dimensions of the trial and breaking down the barriers that channel the flow of information within the courtroom. Online misbehavior by jurors can be reduced to four principle areas: (1) publishing or distributing information about a trial, e.g., tweeting or posting updates on a social media site; (2) uncovering information about the case by searching the Internet, entering social networking sites or visiting virtual crime scenes; (3) contacting parties, witnesses, lawyers or judges via social networking for example; and (4) discussing or deliberating the merits of the litigation prematurely or inviting outside opinions."

"Judges and court administrators are being tasked with responding to this technological revolution in jury behavior. They have been assigned expanded roles in jury selection and policing misconduct before, during and after trial (...)"

"This article collects recent and notable examples of juror online misbehavior and highlights scholarship and practice resources concerning its implications for voir dire, trial management and the administration of justice"


Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Impartiality of Juries Threatened by Web? (October 22, 2009): "Donald Findlay QC, one of Scotland's top criminal lawyers, has warned that the impartiality of the jury system is at risk due to jurors using internet search engines and has warned that the Government cannot continue with its 'ostrich-like' attitude to the problem (...) "
  • Should Twitter in the Courtroom Be Illegal? (November 11, 2009): "A U.S. federal court in the state of Georgia has ruled that Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits 'tweeting' from the courtroom ..."
  • More Jurors Get Into Trouble for Going on the Net (December 13, 2009): "Last week, a Maryland appeals court upended a first-degree murder conviction because a juror consulted Wikipedia for trial information. Earlier this year, the appeals judges erased a conviction for three counts of assault because a juror did cyberspace research and shared the findings with the rest of the jury. In a third recent trial, a juror's admission to using his laptop for off-limits information jeopardized an attempted-murder trial. On Friday, lawyers for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon asked for a new trial in part because five of the jurors who convicted her of embezzlement Dec. 1 were communicating among themselves on Facebook during the deliberations period - and at least one of them received an outsider's online opinion of what the verdict should be. "
  • Should Judges Join Facebook? (January 12, 2010): "In yesterday's Montreal Gazette, an article about whether Canadian judges should be on the popular social networking site Facebook: 'Amid escalating debate in the U.S. about judicial antics online, the Canadian Judicial Council has turned its attention to whether there should be some ground rules for judges who want to join Facebook and other social networking sites (...) While there are no known cases of Canadian judges on Facebook, participation in the U.S. has reached a level that prompted the Florida judicial ethics committee to issue an edict last month that judges and lawyers should not be Facebook 'friends,' to avoid appearance of conflict in the event they end up in the same courtroom (...)' "
  • U.S. Federal Courts Tell Jurors Twitter, Facebook and Texting Verboten (February 9, 2010): "Wired Magazine is reporting that the Judicial Conference of the United States, the body that develops policy for federal courts in that country, has proposed new model jury instructions that explicitly ban the use of applications like Facebook and Twitter ..."
  • U.S. Conference of Court Public Information Officers Report on Social Media and the Courts (September 12, 2010): "Nearly half of judges (47.8 percent) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement 'Judges can use social media profile sites, such as Facebook, in their professional lives without compromising professional conduct codes of ethics.' ; (...) More than half (56 percent) of judges report routine juror instructions that include some component about new media use during the trial ; A smaller proportion of judges than might be expected (9.8 percent) reported witnessing jurors using social media profile sites, microblogging sites, or smart phones, tablets or notebooks in the courtroom."
  • Facebooking in Court: Coping With Socially Networked Jurors (October 13, 2010): "This is the new courtroom reality, one that offers courts less control over what information flows in and out of the jury box. The problem is that, over the centuries, our legal system developed rules designed to ensure that the facts presented to a jury are scrutinized and challenged by both sides. Jurors were asked to hear all the evidence, refrain from sharing opinions and ultimately deliberate in secret. But modern, socially networked jurors accustomed to accessing and sharing information are colliding with this fishbowl experience and disrupting trials in ways few know how to address ..."
  • UK Lord Chief Justice Warns Over Court Tweeting (November 22, 2010): "Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, warned last week that jurors using Google, Facebook and Twitter could threaten the jury system. Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said new social networking technologies and the Internet made it too easy for jurors to access potentially false and prejudicial information about defendants. It could also be very easy for campaigners to bombard the social networking sites with the intention to influence the outcome of a hearing."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:32 pm

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