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Facebook Post Juror Gets Fined, Removed, Assigned Homework 539

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-do-it-tomorrow dept.
eldavojohn writes "A Michigan judge removed a juror after a Facebook comment and also fined her $250 and required her to write a five-page paper about the constitutional right to a fair trial. The juror was 'very sorry' and the judge chastised her, saying, 'You violated your oath. You had decided she was already guilty without hearing the other side.'"
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Facebook Post Juror Gets Fined, Removed, Assigned Homework

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  • Re:Unasked Question (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0bby (201198) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:36AM (#33451386) Homepage

    I find it hard to believe no one is asking exactly why the defendants son is creeping around looking up jurors from his father's trial on Facebook.

    Um, it was the lawyer's son who looked it up, and the defendant was female.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tophermeyer (1573841) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:39AM (#33451452)

    This is something that humans are just hardwired to do. Rapid evaluations of new individuals helps us in evaluating potential threats, and in assessing the credibility and trustworthyness of anyone we meet. It's something that we just cannot avoid doing, it happens very quickly and outside of our awareness. The problem is that these initial perceptions are incredibly difficult to change. One chance at a first impression if you will.

    We all do it. Some of us are more aware that we are doing it than others.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:40AM (#33451476)

    Contempt of court is one of the few times where the writ of habeas corpus doesn't apply. It has been ruled that the defendant "holds the keys to his own cell".

    Unfortunately that implies that you have no standing to challenge a live judicial order. If the judge tells you to do something, you either comply or get locked up until you do. The lack of habeas corpus means that you can't whine to a higher judge and sit tight.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jgagnon (1663075) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:45AM (#33451564)

    There is a whooshing sound near you at the moment that you may want to listen to.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:45AM (#33451566) Journal

    Technically, the judge HAS tried her. The judge has the authority to convict her of contempt of court. Up here, when a juror does that, they're looking at up to 2 years in jail, which is one reason why you don't see jurors talking about jury deliberations even decades after a trial - what is said in deliberations is forever secret.

    Ex-parte communication with the defendant is also a good way to go to jail.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheLink (130905) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:52AM (#33451720) Journal

    For scenarios and for many people those initial perceptions are often right[1] (and good enough).

    But going by guesses does not make for a fair trial.

    [1] See: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/excerpts/2005-01-07-blink_x.htm [usatoday.com]

    Quote: "On the basis of those calculations, Gottman has proven something remarkable. If he analyzes an hour of a husband and wife talking, he can predict with 95% accuracy whether that couple will still be married fifteen years later. If he watches a couple for fifteen minutes, his success rate is around 90%. Recently, a professor who works with Gottman named Sybil Carrère, who was playing around with some of the videotapes, trying to design a new study, discovered that if they looked at only three minutes of a couple talking, they could still predict with fairly impressive accuracy who was going to get divorced and who was going to make it. The truth of a marriage can be understood in a much shorter time than anyone ever imagined."

    But I disagree with the conclusion over the "doctors being sued" part. The conclusion was to avoid certain doctors, but to me that study could just indicate people are more likely to sue doctors they don't like rather than that those type of doctors are more likely to commit sue-worthy mistakes. Unless of course the study also analyzed the success/failure rates of those doctors. It would actually be interesting if that was done and it turned out that the doctors who had a less friendly tone were actually significantly worse, but I don't get that from the article.

  • Re:another reason (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:55AM (#33451794) Journal

    When I was on a federal jury a few years ago. The trial was held 15 miles from the "crime scene" and as much as 45 or more from the juror's homes. It took some jurors over 2.5 hours to drive home. (I live in a city exceedingly bad for commuting.)

    However, none of us resented the defendant for this. It was remarkable that everyone felt it was their civic duty.

    My only complaint about the entire process is that the jury (pretty much the entire jury) felt that the charges were overly aggressive. A very young man had been selling crack, and admitted to selling crack. But because he discussed crack prices and pickups over the telephone with other people, it was conspiracy. Even though he did not benefit from the conspiracy. The way the instructions to the jury were written, there was no choice in the outcome. In addition to selling charges, the young man went to jail on conspiracy for 20-30 years.

    The judge should have been required to explain to the jury about jury nullification. We would have nullified those charges so quickly it would have made the DA's head spin. All potential jurors should understand what jury nullification before they begin. [fija.org]

  • Re:another reason (Score:4, Informative)

    by adavies42 (746183) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:21AM (#33452306)

    all americans are peers since none of us are nobles. (an irony, given how "peer" is used in england....) read some history sometime, it makes a lot of things make more sense.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:31AM (#33452522) Homepage Journal

    Contempt of court is typically not a criminal conviction. It can land you in jail for the duration of the contempt plus several months or years depending on the state.

    But it carries no criminal record.

    Criminal contempt of court on the other hand does result in a criminal record. However, this requires a full-blown trial and the defendant has just as much of a right to a jury as any similarly serious crime.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:4, Informative)

    by hedwards (940851) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:40AM (#33452750)
    That's not true, jurors are only required to remain silent during the trial, afterward, they're allowed to talk to council and anybody else they like. In practice former jurors tend to remain silent for the simple reason that it's very easy to say something after the fact which causes huge headaches or can even cause the case to be set aside. At least that's how it is here in WA, USA, not sure about other parts of the world.
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:45AM (#33452882) Homepage

    Not liking a law they are charged with is FULL REASON to ignore the Judges instructions and perform Jury Nullification.

    The Jury is the last line in the law. Unjust Law? Say not guilty in face of the law.

    Honestly, if more Americans had the balls to do this, more unjust laws would be destroyed in the courts as they create precedence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:47AM (#33452932)

    Recently, I was not selected in a jury trial but I wished I would have been. Too many of the potentials had been "educated" by Law & Order, or other courtroom dramas.

    Here is the premise: A man stabs his wife 14 times using 2 knives and a fork. I dont say allegedly because he did do it, he admitted it, he called the police when it was over to tell them she was dead. She was not dead, but went to the hospital where she later died.

    The case was between the prosecution (claiming 1st degree, premeditated murder), and the defense (claiming 2nd degree murder). Even after being described what the difference was, most of the potential jurors were under the thought that, if he was found "not guilty" of 1st degree murder, he would do no jail time. In reality, if the defense "wins" this case, he serves for 2nd degree murder instead of 1st. Even before being selected, many had already sided with the prosecution, because "murder is murder, and he already said he did it."

    The defense ran out of picks, and the prosecution did not use all of theirs, so I was 2 picks short of being selected. I wish I would have, as I feel many that did get selected weren't going to give him a fair trial as it was. Until proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution, the defendant was guilty of 2nd degree murder, for which he confessed to. It burns me up to this day that many many many people felt it was the burden of the defense to prove that it wasn't 1st degree murder, and that is NOT how the justice system is supposed to work.

    I really wish that they taught this crap in school, Americans are getting dumber by the day.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:48AM (#33452946) Journal

    As a juror, you can "THINK" anything you want. That's fine. But a posting "I'm looking forward to telling the defendant he is guilty" when only the prosecution has had time to present their case is not THINKING. It's reaching a conclusion, and stating it in public, before the evidence has been examined. That's precisely, exactly, 100% the epitome of what jurors are NOT supposed to do.

    The prosecution lays out their evidence, then the defense lays out their evidence and has the opportunity to examine and refute the prosecution's evidence. During that process, some or all of the prosecution's case may be destroyed (or may not). At the end, both the prosecution and defense make closing statements, which allow then one last chance to summarize what is left of their respective cases.

    Until the defense has had an opportunity to fully respond to the accusation, the juror should not be in the position of concluding that the defendant is guilty. They may have their own internal opinion about it, but their job while a juror is to really listen to the defense and see if the defense can adequately explain away or refute the prosecution's evidence. If the defense fails to do this, then they vote "GUILTY" in the trial. Once the verdict is read and the jurors are released from duty, they are then free to talk about the trial to anyone they want. Until that time, they are constantly reminded to keep their mouth shut outside the jury deliberation room and their eyes, ears, and mind open while in the courtroom.

    Boring as hell? You betcha. Damn it's mind-numbingly dull. But it's one of the duties we have as citizens - protecting the rights of our fellow citizens. It's very similar to military service in that regard.

    If we are accused of a crime, we have the right to a trial. Guilt or innocence in that trial is decided by people who are supposed to be impartial strangers who look at the evidence with as little bias as is humanly possible. That right is supported by the jury system, and the jurors who are drafted into service to perform this duty. The inconvenience and hassle we pay to occasionally be called for jury duty is part of the price of freedom - it ensures that your accuser cannot also decide your guilt or innocence. They have to convince a room full of people.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#33453352)

    Plus remember the Average IQ is 100, that means 2 out of 5 people are below 100 IQ

    No, it doesn't.

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cjb658 (1235986) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:22PM (#33453630) Journal

    ?

    2/5 != 2/3

  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:2, Informative)

    by stillnotelf (1476907) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:52PM (#33456206)
    Emotionally, I totally agree with this. Intellectually, I've never seen a system which can discriminate who should and should not be able to do these things that would work in practice...
  • Re:about time.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:47PM (#33458524) Homepage

    You know, with how pervasive social networking is these days, and how poorly educated a lot of the public seems to be about how the legal system works

    Unless Michigan is very different from Washington, the state of education about the legal process is irrelevant - because jurors and prospective jurors are briefed (multiple times) about what is and isn't appropriate behavior during the selection process and prior to trial.

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