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The Courts Your Rights Online

Lawyer Demands Jury Stops Googling 517

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the justice-has-no-wifi dept.
coomaria noted an unsurprising story about how courts are having problems with jurors Googling during cases. As anyone who has ever been called for jury duty knows, you aren't allowed to get outside information about the case you are hearing, but apparently the iPhone makes it far too easy to ignore this advice. A lawyer is trying to get jurors to sign a form explicitly stating they won't "use 'personal electronic and media devices' to research or communicate about the case." Of course, I'm not exactly sure why a juror should need to sign something for your iPhone but not a newspaper.
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Lawyer Demands Jury Stops Googling

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  • by Verteiron (224042) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:33AM (#29453943) Homepage

    "Not aloud"? "To easy"?

    Is there an editor in the house?

    • by hey (83763) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:35AM (#29453981) Journal

      Axing 4 pooper speeling is allot.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 17, 2009 @01:45PM (#29455971) Homepage Journal

      Ewe muss bee knew hear. Wee owl ewes spill chuckers. Hour spilling is all wise prefect.

  • IIRC, newspapers are censored for jurors.
    • What about TV? Especially in OJish cases where every TV on the planet is blaring about it!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Spazztastic (814296)

        What about TV? Especially in OJish cases where every TV on the planet is blaring about it!

        When you're a juror you're not supposed to really watch TV. A friend is about to give a victim's statement on a murder case and she isn't allowed to discuss the facts of the case, watch TV, call anybody about it, read the newspaper, or do just about anything that could skew her opinion on the case. Sure, you can watch Happy Days reruns on TV Land if your shitty motel 6 room that the district attourney set you up in has it, but when you're flown out of state to give testimony on a case and you have nothing t

      • Yes. In important cases, they won't even let the jurors go home. They put them up in hotels. They're not allowed to speak to the press, watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, ... basically any interaction with the outside world is forbidden for the duration of the trial.

    • Of course, I'm not exactly sure why a juror should need to sign something for your iPhone but not a newspaper.

      You beat me to it so I'll just add my two cents. :)

      Newspapers are supposed to be written by professional journalists with professional standards. The articles those journalists write are then supposed to be edited by editors with years, if not decades, of experience. The internet, in contrast, is full of air-bags with no professional standards.

      Allowing jurors to be exposed to what is written on

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        Newspapers are supposed to be written by professional journalists with professional standards. The articles those journalists write are then supposed to be edited by editors with years, if not decades, of experience.

        How's that mythical land you're inhabiting?

        Professional journalists are just better at googling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by InlawBiker (1124825)

      No, apparently only The iPhone is capable of mobile Internet magic with the Google mothership. Before The iPhone there was no way to ruin a fair trial with outside information, because it was too difficult to reach any sort of outside information at all, of any type on any medium. Also, the magical aura of The iPhone is so blinding that the jurors are too distracted to hear explicit legal instructions from the judge.

      Or perhaps they're smarter than we think. Next time I want to get out of jury duty I'll j

  • Just confused? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:34AM (#29453967) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they're just trying to figure out what all the complicated legalese being thrown out by both sides is supposed to mean by checking out Wikipedia or Findlaw?

    • Re:Just confused? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nukenbar (215420) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#29454133)

      That's is why a jury is allowed to ask questions and ask for read back of testimony during jury deliberations. A juror might google segregation, read the first sentence or two, and think that Plessy v. Ferguson [wikipedia.org] is still good law.

      • Re:Just confused? (Score:5, Informative)

        by pdabbadabba (720526) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:10PM (#29454511) Homepage

        Yes. That is also why jurors are not supposed to reach decisions on matters of law, only matters of fact. If the jury members need to understand the legalese someone is doing something wrong.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gnud (934243)
          IANAL, of course. But my understanding is that jurors need to understand which facts would have to be established in order for a crime to be, e.g, 1st degree and not 2nd degree murder.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mini me (132455)

          Considering that the jury are bound by the legalese in their every day life, I would hope they understand it to the letter. If they do happen to encounter something they are not familiar with during the trial, it should be encouraged for them to become more familiar with what is going on. It is their duty as a citizen to know and understand the law, after all.

          Ignorance of legalese is not required to judge trials on fact alone. It is quite easy for a normally functioning brain to separate the two concepts.

        • Re:Just confused? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:40PM (#29457011) Journal

          Yes. That is also why jurors are not supposed to reach decisions on matters of law, only matters of fact. If the jury members need to understand the legalese someone is doing something wrong.

          Actually, Juries CAN decide the matters of law, it is just frowned upon. It is called Jury Nullification, where a jury, despite of the facts, simply ignores the law.

          Honestly, a lot of our really bad laws can be and should be nullified by juries, and until we get widespread informed juries, bad laws will continue to be enforced.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by clone53421 (1310749)

            Yeah, well, except that if you give any suggestion that you, as a juror, might disagree with the law and ignore it in your ruling, you'll be rejected by the prosecution during the juror selection process. I suppose you could lie to them when they ask you whether you'd uphold the law...

          • Re:Just confused? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Dhalka226 (559740) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:20AM (#29462795)

            Actually, Juries CAN decide the matters of law, it is just frowned upon. It is called Jury Nullification, where a jury, despite of the facts, simply ignores the law.

            Ehh, sorta. From what research I've done, "jury nullification" is more a byproduct of the fact that "no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States" (7th Amendment) and the protection against being tried again for the same crime once you're found innocent (5th Amendment).

            In other words, once a jury finds a person innocent it doesn't matter at all why they did it. Hell, they could all have been bribed and their decision would still stand (though they and the people who paid them may all be subject to prosecution themselves). In that sense, yes, "I don't approve of the law" is going to hold up.

            The most recent court decisions on the matter basically go like this: Yes, you can do it, because we can't stop you. But yes, if anybody tells you that you can do it the judge can declare a mistrial. And yes, if the judge believes you're going to do it he can throw you off the jury pre-emptively (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification#United_States). Presumably, if you brought it up in the jury room and the judge found out he could also declare a mistrial at that point, though I've not seen any specific evidence for or against that assumption.

            So, yeah, it exists, but I wouldn't agree with those who call it a right. It's a byproduct of our system that the courts really don't want you to have or to exercise, they just can't really stop you.

        • by SonicSpike (242293) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:44PM (#29457071) Homepage Journal

          Actually this is incorrect. Jurors are supposed to try the facts, AND, the law. Why? Because if the law is unjust, then it should not be upheld. You should research something called jury nullification. Here is a good place to start-- http://www.fija.org/ [fija.org]

    • Re:Just confused? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:51AM (#29454237)

      I think if you'd ever been on a jury you would know that trial attorneys typically dumb down arguments and presentations to a level that would shock most slashdotters (e.g., "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.") IAAL and it's sad to reduce complex (and interesting) technical issues into baby talk so 8 unemployed people from the mall can pick a winner in a million dollar business dispute.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jburroug (45317)

        I've always maintained that if I'm ever falsely accused of a crime then I would waive my right to a jury trial and go with a judge. While not exactly perfect I figure a judge will be a lot harder to sway with over the top, scare mongering arguments that the DA might prefer to use on a jury. However if I'm actually a guilty, hell yeah I want a jury trial! Again figure the judge will see through some bullshit but with a jury of my nominal peers I'm willing to give the Chewbaca defense a shot or whatever else

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pauljlucas (529435)
      Lawyers tend not to do that, or at least explain it. They're fully aware that jurors aren't lawyers. But, if a juror is confused for any reason, s/he is supposed to submit written questions to the judge. I did exactly that when I served on a jury.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)

      Maybe they're just trying to figure out what all the complicated legalese being thrown out by both sides is supposed to mean by checking out Wikipedia or Findlaw?

      Defining the law is the judge's responsibility - and the purely legal decisions are his alone to make.

      He brings to the task a lifetime of experience in court - and his mistakes are open and visible and can be corrected on appeal.

      Legal encyclopedias are held in generally low regard in the states.

      The general reference encyclopedia - particularly on

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:02PM (#29456265) Journal

      Maybe they're just trying to figure out what all the complicated legalese being thrown out by both sides is supposed to mean by checking out Wikipedia or Findlaw?

      Actually, based on my uninformed, mysanthropic and cynical view of the current generation, I figure it might have been more like:

      Lawyer: "Mr Burns, can you tell us in your own words what... Err... Your honour, the jury is playing with their phones again instead of paying attention!"
      Judge: "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I remind you that you're supposed to pay attention? Someone's freedom is at stake here."
      Jurror 1: "Sorry. I was paying attention."
      Lawyer: "Your honour, please ask her what we were talking about."
      Prosecution: "Objection!"
      Judge: "Overruled. Mrs Smith, can you tell us what the last question to the witness was?"
      Jurror 1: "I can has cheezburger? LOL!"
      Witness: "Did she actually pronounce 'LOL'?"
      Judge: "Silence, please. Ok, I see. Next member of the jury? Can you tell us what was being debated?"
      Jurror 2: "Chewbacca defense?"
      Lawyer: "What? Your honour, I must..."
      Judge: "Silence, please! Next member of the jurry? You, please?"
      Jurror 3: "Huh? What?"
      Judge: "What are you using that phone for, anyway? I must remind you that you're not allowed to look up any other information about the case than that presented in this court."
      Jurror 3: "Ah, nah, my girlfriend was sexting me her breasts. Sorry."
      Jurror 2: "Me too."
      Jurror 3: "I hope you mean your girlfriend."
      Jurror 2: "Nah, yours."
      Jurror 3: "Well, your mom was sexting me hers."
      Jurror 2: "Dude, mom is dead..."
      Jurror 4: "Geesh, guys, cut it out. I was cybering this hot chick and just wrote "your mom" by mistake. Crap."
      Jurror 5 blushes and quickly folds his phone and shoves it in the pocket.
      Jurror 4: "Crap, now she logged out."

  • As a former Juror... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MarkusH (198450) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:34AM (#29453971)

    You're not supposed to read the newspaper either.

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:42AM (#29454093)
      While a newspaper may contain some high-level information about the case (and that's assuming you don't live in a jurisdiction with publication bans - in which case the newspapers will have nothing at all), having a web-enabled device allows you to look up background information, similar cases and their outcomes, the recently-created facebook group named "fry that bastard", and literally dozens of other ways to colour your perception of the facts being presented in the courtroom.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:04PM (#29454439)

        Yes we wouldn't want anyone to color anyone's perception of any facts, of law or of the circumstances of the case, would we?

        No wait, that is what the attorneys are doing and I expect news bans and Google bans are lawyers attempting to protect their income streams.

        You see, the whole idea of "law" was supposed to be for a code to bind a society together by making every member capable of some action affecting others to follow a simple set of clear rules, which, again by definition, were to be simple enough to be memorized in entirety by everyone. That is why Hammurabi had the thing carved in stone and placed at public squares, so that "ignorance of the law" was not an excuse for breaking it.

        The moment however when the "law" becomes so complicated and ambiguous that it requires someone to "interpret it" (i.e. twist it to whatever whim of the moment is fanciful) the whole concept breaks. In short a society which needs lawyers, is by definition lawless, as "law" has morphed from the universal code of conduct to a byzantine, convoluted, religious scripture which requires a career priesthood to worship, massage, "interpret" and twist to the needs of whatever power caste is running the place at the time. The average denizen then simply becomes hapless prey for this caste of parasites with no recourse but to prostate himself/herself before the high-priests of "law" who hold the strings of the citizen's life or death in their hands.

        Ultimately, in a country of lawyers, by lawyers and for lawyers, the laws become such a sick caricature of the original idea that no one knows the "law" to its full extent, including all of its priests. One can test this simple supposition by simply asking any one of them to recite the "law" of the land from memory. In the USA, not only no lawyer, judge or politician could do it (even though the "law" is supposedly binding everyone and its ignorance is "no excuse") but they would not be able to tell you what the current definitive law is at all, even when given the ability to use books and databases to do it, as the code has become so byzantine that its successive layers upon layers of modifications and arcane religious language are so completely unmanageable that pretty much any "legal" decision needs an arbitrary "interpretation" by a cabal of priests.

        And this is why the majority of people instinctively hates lawyers, as even if most people cannot vocalize it, an average person's intrinsic moral compass is able to detect that something is profoundly wrong with the very idea of a lawyer.

        • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:46PM (#29455069)

          I won't argue the fact that law and legal process have become perverted, however I still like the idea that if I am in a court of law facing some kind of serious accusation, there are certain norms and procedures. For example, the prosecution is not allowed to make up completely fictitious shit just for fun, and present it to the jury in an attempt to sway their opinion. A random twitterer however, is able to make up random shit about me, and post doctored photoshops, and parrot third-hand accusations.

          I'm not sure I am comfortable with the idea that the jury who is deciding my fate are all sitting there logged onto reddit reading who knows what about me while the case is still underway.

          Are you?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by NormalVisual (565491)
            For example, the prosecution is not allowed to make up completely fictitious shit just for fun, and present it to the jury in an attempt to sway their opinion.

            That didn't stop Mike Nifong before he'd seriously disrupted the lives of the people he attempted to ruin, and before it cost them thousands and thousands of dollars. He got caught - how many haven't?
          • Yes, there are "certain norms and procedures", but they change over time.

            The idea that jurors need to be entirely ignorant of the case is a relatively recent invention and arguably a bad idea. If you go back to a time when people lived in such small towns that everybody was likely to know everybody, you find a different notion: that it was good for jurors to know not just the facts but the people involved, because already knowing a witness made it easier to accurately judge the credibility of that person.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          [...] with no recourse but to prostate himself/herself before the high-priests [...]

          I can't help but wonder exactly what prostate as a verb means. It sounds deeply unpleasant.

          Not being a spelling nazi, but that one is too fun to pass up. ;)

        • by jcnnghm (538570) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:52PM (#29455169)

          Yes we wouldn't want anyone to color anyone's perception of any facts, of law or of the circumstances of the case, would we?

          No, we wouldn't. You don't want public opinion and emotion getting in the way of the facts.

          No wait, that is what the attorneys are doing and I expect news bans and Google bans are lawyers attempting to protect their income streams.

          You really believe it would be better if trials were left to popular public opinion?

          You see, the whole idea of "law" was supposed to be for a code to bind a society together by making every member capable of some action affecting others to follow a simple set of clear rules, which, again by definition, were to be simple enough to be memorized in entirety by everyone. That is why Hammurabi had the thing carved in stone and placed at public squares, so that "ignorance of the law" was not an excuse for breaking it.

          That's a great example, but not in the way that you think. The Hammurabi code didn't really work that well in practice. It turns out, it's really not that simple. You can't just build a state machine, input what happened, and output punishment. For example, do you see the difference between a woman that kills her abusive husband in the heat of the moment, and someone that abducts, tortures, and murders a random person. Our modern system is designed to deal with things like degree and severity, and adapt as times change. Lot's of laws have subjective terminology, like "reasonable", that's designed to change as people change. That's why we have lawyers.

          The moment however when the "law" becomes so complicated and ambiguous that it requires someone to "interpret it" (i.e. twist it to whatever whim of the moment is fanciful) the whole concept breaks. In short a society which needs lawyers, is by definition lawless, as "law" has morphed from the universal code of conduct to a byzantine, convoluted, religious scripture which requires a career priesthood to worship, massage, "interpret" and twist to the needs of whatever power caste is running the place at the time. The average denizen then simply becomes hapless prey for this caste of parasites with no recourse but to prostate himself/herself before the high-priests of "law" who hold the strings of the citizen's life or death in their hands.

          You're being hypocritical here. You're pontificating about the law being turned into a religion. You need people to interpret and argue because things are never as simple as you'd like them to be. You need to be able to balance contradictory ideals. A great example of this is defamation law. To balance first amendment rights and the public's "right to know", there is a different standard for public figures than there is for everyone else. In order to win a defamation case, the public figure must prove actual malice, that the person knew what they were saying wasn't true, and said it to hurt the public figure, maliciously. You need to be able to argue, and then have an impartial group of people, not swayed by public opinion, weight the arguments and make a decision.

          Ultimately, in a country of lawyers, by lawyers and for lawyers, the laws become such a sick caricature of the original idea that no one knows the "law" to its full extent, including all of its priests. One can test this simple supposition by simply asking any one of them to recite the "law" of the land from memory. In the USA, not only no lawyer, judge or politician could do it (even though the "law" is supposedly binding everyone and its ignorance is "no excuse") but they would not be able to tell you what the current definitive law is at all, even when given the ability to use books and databases to do it, as the code has become so byzantine that its successive layers upon layers of modifications and arcane religious language are so completely unmanageable that pretty much any "legal" decision needs an arbitrary "interp

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Indeed. Dilbert has far more truth then the lawyer.
  • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce&wordhole,net> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:35AM (#29453975)
    It's a Microsoft case, right?
  • using an news paper to research is more difficult, not as up to date, and if sequestered that won't have on delivered.

    • I'd say it's more because there's now a group of people who cannot function at their full capacity without ready access to the web. A group of people for whom the internet has become an off site long term memory, slower than your regular one but much larger and much more reliable. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's entirely possible that their full capacity is significantly above the rest of the populations, only that they feel somewhat crippled without access to that information.

      After all, there are

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:35AM (#29453979)

    ...then hearing the lawyers would be deafened, rendering justice blind.

  • Twitter (Score:4, Funny)

    by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:36AM (#29453989) Journal
    I'm surprised twitter hasn't come up as an issue before this...

    "just ruld guilty 4 life LOL pmita prison!"
  • More Work (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anglophobe_0 (1383785)
    If they don't stop this behavior, Police who testify will have to use something more convincing than a quote from Wikipedia to put someone behind bars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Spazztastic (814296)

      If they don't stop this behavior, Police who testify will have to use something more convincing than a quote from Wikipedia to put someone behind bars.

      I don't know, I'm still waiting on a police officer to testify and use the Chewbacca Defense [wikipedia.org].

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:41AM (#29454069)

    IANAL, but my cousin is and her husband is a police officer, and one of her biggest complaints is that jurors are now expecting evidence to be collected and more importantly processed along the lines of the tv show CSI. Where DNA results are turned around in an hour and even bullets collected in the pouring rain can still be matched to a national gunpowder manufacturer database.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#29454137) Homepage

      It's not the CSI effect, it's the "most Americans are stupid" effect.

      Honestly, Most can not tell the difference between Fantasy on TV and reality. this is why a jury in a technical case is not a "jury of your peers" unless the jury is compromised of IT and CS people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goodmanj (234846)

      IANAL, but I served on a jury last summer, and I think the "CSI Effect" is a nice counterbalance to the "Cops are Gods Effect". In the past, jurors accepted any evidence presented by police officers as unambiguous and unquestionable... and DNA evidence especially was treated like a stone tablet handed down from God himself.

      Partly as a result of CSI, people now understand that there's good police work and bad police work, and DNA evidence isn't as ironclad as the prosecutor claims.

      Case in point: in the tria

  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <[rich] [at] [annexia.org]> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:42AM (#29454083) Homepage

    If jurors search online for information about the case or the defendant, then it makes it harder to maintain the presumption of innocence.

    For example, the media might report all sort of information about the case: the defendant had previously been seen hanging around the schoolyard, the defendant was "known to police", he was convicted of a similar crime 20 years before, etc.

    Some of this information might be true, and some of it might not be true. If it's raised during the court case, then it can be rebutted by the other side. If it's just speculation printed in the media and found out by the jurors from their hotel room, the defence might not know what they have to rebut.

    Of course .. this is going to get harder and harder as computers and the internet become more and more pervasive.

    Rich.

    • by uffe_nordholm (1187961) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:57AM (#29454321)
      There is an easy way around this: let the jurors ask questions to any witness they like, and demand clarification of any facts they need explained in more detail. And let them do this at any time before delivering their verdict, be it while the witness is still in the stand or much later.

      Since both the DA and defence council are obviously biased one way or the other, letting the jury do some fact-finding of their own seems reasonable to me. (Caveat: I live in a country that does not use a jury system, so my proposal might entail problems I cannot forsee. Instead of a jury, Sweden has a system in which volunteers are elected to serve in four year periods. All courts are presided over by a judge, who obviously has legal training, but the other people needn't have it).
    • by pavon (30274) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:58AM (#29454343)

      To add to this excellent post, it is also critical as a means of keeping law enforcement in line. If the police obtain evidence by means of unlawful search and seizure, the judge can and should ban that evidence from being presented in court. It isn't banned from being printed in the media though; free speech and all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339)

        A better approach would be this:

        1. Illegally-siezed evidence is fully admissible. If somebody commits a crime then police error should not be a reason to excuse the crime. The nature of the discovery of the evidence should also be disclosed to the jury.

        2. Officers who illegally-sieze evidence should be seriously punished - I'm talking serious fines or jail-time. It should be illegal to perform an illegal search (well, uh, duh). This needs to be taken seriously, and penalities need to actually be appli

        • by clintp (5169) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:35PM (#29454899)

          1. You've just opened the door to a police state. No thanks. Besides, the crime isn't "excused" but evidence that might be used to convict is ruled inadmissible. Use different evidence, that's all.

          2. The rub is this: "officers who..." For an illegal wiretap, who's culpable? The technician who installed it? The officer who listened? The commanding officer who ordered the tap? The judge who signed the warrant that was later invalidated? Who gets charged?

                And then what jury would convict them? If an officer is charged with illegally obtaining evidence that catches a serial child rapist murderer, can you honestly see a panel of jurors sending him to prison? Really? They'd set him free or slap him on the wrist.

          This is why there are rules of evidence and defendants have the rights they do, to prevent decay into a lawless police state.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rich0 (548339)

      This is why people need to be taught about the nature of sources and their bias. That applies in both the voting booth and the jury room.

      If I Googled a case and found press reports, I'd probably be fairly skeptical of the information, or I'd at least look at how it was actually obtained. Granted, I'm not necessarily a typical juror. However, it is possible for an educated juror to weigh outside info in making their decisions.

      In any case, as you point out at some point these problems are going to become i

  • by Rich0 (548339)

    The law hates jurors in the first place - all those non-professionals who evaluate things in terms of right and wrong and not on the pure bases of compliance with appropriate legal loopholes.

    It seems like the modern court system starts with the assumption that jurors only mess things up. Then it has rules of evidence so that the jury is given precisely the right information so that they reach the "appropriate" conclusion.

    I understand the issues with expert testimony and all that. IMHO some kinds of expert

  • Nutty Judges... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:43AM (#29454101) Homepage

    Last time I was sitting on a jury they took all our phones and PDA's. No electronic devices allowed.

    What nutty judges are allowing the jurors to even have their phones on them? so they can be googling while sitting there? Although unless you are sequestered, you can go home and google everything you heard that day...

    • If you're supposed to be sequestered, I assume that they remove access to communication devices like phones, PDAs, laptops, etc..., the same way that they don't give you newspapers.

      If you're not sequestered, I'm going to assume that the judge/court already instructs you not to read or look up outside information about the case and explains to you exactly what the punishment is for breaking the court's instructions.

      Now given the extent to which the court tracks the actions of jurors, I'm going to assume that

  • Perhaps because a newspaper often is more shock and awe stuff and really doesn't cover laws and loopholes as a Google searches might.
  • How about going the other way? Google could create a special search engine for legal questions, and a Wiki for evidence. Then televise all trials and allow the public at large to text in their votes. The advertising revenue could easily fund the system and perhaps some decent health care for indigents. And given the well-known WoC® (Wisdom of Crowds), we'd be assured of better outcomes. I see it as win-win-win.
  • Oh puhlease... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:49AM (#29454201) Homepage
    The prosecution and defense have, for years, been trying to weed out intelligent, informed jurors especially ones that know the defendant or the victim. They claim it is necessary to keep out prejudice even while they do extremely unethical things like introducing the testimony of career criminals who have been given incentives to testilie (aka jailhouse snitches) and to keep information about the victim/plaintiff's behavior from the jury's ears lest the jury come to the conclusion that their behavior was so irresponsible that it mitigates the severity of what the defendant did.
  • by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:51AM (#29454229) Homepage

    "Googling"...?

    "the iPhone makes it far to easy to ignore this advice"...?

    Did the iPhone suddenly invent mobile internet access? Web access has been a standard feature of every cell phone and PDA sold in the world (certainly in Europe and Asia) since years before the iPhone even existed. And is Google now somehow the only way to contact other people or read news websites?

    Can these articles at least be tagged with "productplacement" or possibly "fanboysummary"?

    And anyway, sequestered jurors aren't allowed to keep cellphones, while non-sequestered jurors can even watch TV, so the whole point is nonsensical.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      iPhone is the term that is used now becasue of it's huge usage.

      Language does this all the time, get used to it.

  • "This verdict is written on a cocktail napkin. And it still says 'guilty'... And 'guilty' is spelled wrong!"

    "I'm not wearing a tie at all."

  • Mistrial? (Score:3, Funny)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:01PM (#29454379) Journal

    "...the iPhone makes it far too easy..."

    Need a mistrial? There's an app for that.

  • Keep em ignorant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 (545495)

    We don't want these jurors looking up information and being educated. Just what we tell them. Period. No dictionaries, thesarus, the more ignorant and impressionable we can keep jurors the better...

    Seriously, what government in their right mind wants jurors not to have resources to research what they are being told?

    • Re:Keep em ignorant (Score:4, Informative)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:15PM (#29454555) Journal

      Yes, because if you were on trial accused of dealing drugs, you would want the jury to know you were arrested for smoking pot even though the judge in the trial said it was not relevant to the case. And, then when they found you guilty, even though you were innocent because they had developed a biased opinion of you from their internet research, I am sure you will have no problem with it.

      Just like if you were arrested at 17 for statutory rape of your 18yo girlfriend (yes, this is possible), you would want the jury to know that you were arrested for rape when a woman IDs you as her rapist, even though there is no physical evidence and little circumstantial evidence and the judge has ruled that your previous arrest (and possible conviction) is not germane to the case.

      OH, and I am sure you would want jurors reading blogs that say "He did it! We know he did it! The police just screwed up the case!" while deciding your fate.

  • Google is tempting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brusk (135896) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @03:16PM (#29457521)
    Earlier this year I was a juror in a civil trial about a slip-and-fall in a parking lot. Simple stuff, nothing that would have been in the paper, but the case related to the layout of the parking lot where the accident occurred, and it was very tempting to look at the satellite photos on Google Maps (I did so after the trial). I would bet that most cases are like this: relatively few would make it into the media, but for many some potentially relevant information is out there, and requires zero effort to find.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]

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