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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:34AM (#33451338)

    As much as I hate Facebook and love to take any opportunity to bash it, I very much agree with you.

    I have served on juries, in and most cases my fellow jurors had already made up their minds well before both sides presented their case.

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

    by delinear (991444) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:45AM (#33451574)
    Everyone knows humans make knee jerk assumptions about people. Everyone should also know that, if you're sitting on a jury, you don't post those knee jerk assumptions on Facebook - it highlights the mockery of the fair trial process, and judges don't like that at all.
  • Re:Unasked Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kent_eh (543303) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#33451694)
    I find it disturbing that anyone in the courtroom (or associated with the process) even knows the names of the jurors.
    When I was a juror we were assigned numbers before we even arrived at the court for selection. AFAIK the judge didn't even know our names.
    During selection, we were asked if we knew the accused, the victim, any of the lawyers, the police officers involved, or any of the witnesses (and their names were listed) or if we had any dealings with anyone in the small town that they had all come from. Any of those would make you not able to sit on the jury for this case.
    We were also strongly warned not to speak about the details of the trial with anyone other than the other jurors. Ever.

    Of course, that''s the Canadian court system. In other countries, YMMV.
  • by Fuseboy (414663) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:00PM (#33451896) Homepage

    Given recent articles about snap decisions (apparently deciding if you think a gal's hot, or your emotional reaction to a web site both take a fraction of a second), perhaps all this woman was doing was revealing an uncomfortable truth about the justice system. Could it be that jurors reach their decision in the first few minutes (or less) and everything that follows just loads them up with ammunition to form their rationalizations?

  • by imthesponge (621107) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:11PM (#33452112)

    People can't change their minds now? Of course a juror is going to think the defendant is guilty after hearing the prosecution. If she didn't think so, the prosecution wouldn't be doing their job.

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:23PM (#33452364)

    Don't people know all defendants are guilty period?

    I mean, c'mon. If they're on trial that means we got them. :P

    I know you're joking, but I'd like to point out that there's a rather natural reason why the system is slanted against the defendant:

    It's expensive and overloaded.

    As a prosecutor you wouldn't want to waste resources on a fishing expedition. You'll need a case, and whether fabricated out of whole cloth or genuine, it really ought to be a good enough case to convince at least SOME of the jurors by the time you are finished presenting it. If not, then it is too soon to go to trial, isn't it?

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

    by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:28PM (#33452468) Journal

    all citizens agree to all laws. Not random people who get extra rules foisted on them for varying lengths of time which can get them jailed without a proper trial if they break them.

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

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:36PM (#33452660) Homepage

    You dont know much about the process do you.

    you AGREED to it when you signed up to vote. That is where they pull jury choices from Voter records.

    Here in michigan they use TWO. Drivers license records and Voter records. If you do NOT agree to being on a jury, then dont have a drivers license and dont register to vote.

    This is spelled out clearly in the State and Federal EULA you agreed to when you became a US citizen.

    Let me guess, you are one of those people that knows NOTHING about your rights, and responsibilities as set forth by your Laws and constitution.

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

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:39PM (#33452736) Homepage

    It's really just an older definition of the term. "Peer" is mostly used the same way in Britain as it's used here, and the it can be used here to describe "peers" of other countries, perfectly accurately. Since blooded nobility means very little these days, even in countries that continue to have it, the old use of the term has fallen away except in historical records and fantasy novels.

    To GP: The original use of the term "peer" had little to do with ability, and everything to do with birth. When the original English legal system was designed, the jury of one's peers assumed that a noble would not be judged by a jury of commoners. Of course in the US, since we recognize no blooded nobility, that means that a jury of your peers is synonymous with a jury of fellow citizens.

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

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:40PM (#33452752) Homepage

    That's why the pool should be 50% random selection and 50% required of all 18 year old adults.

    Graduated from highschool? Great! Here's your juror number. It's time you learned how the judicial system works instead of the bullshit they fed you in school civics class.

  • by Sprouticus (1503545) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:48PM (#33452940)

    And I was on a jury for a murder trial where we debated for many hours before finding the person not guilty (the fucker was guilty but the state did not prove their case). The point being that your experience is interesting but not universal.

    Yes people make up their mind beofre things start.. But that is why yu are supposed to deliberate, supposed to discuss. To make sure

    a) everyone understands the evidence
    b) everyone understands what the evidence MEANS
    c) everyone can explain their reasoning.

    Sure you can take the evidence and make it fit your preconceived notions. But if yu are on the jury with other people who have a brain they will see through that and make you explain yourself.

  • by sxedog (824351) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:48PM (#33452954)

    My Grandpa used to say: "You pay peanuts, you get monkeys".

    Sadly that is what the juror system has become.

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

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:50PM (#33452998) Homepage Journal

    The way the instructions to the jury were written, there was no choice in the outcome. ... The judge should have been required to explain to the jury about jury nullification.

    How does someone even reach the age where they can be selected for jury duty without understanding the basic principle that the jurors can decide pretty much whatever they please behind those closed doors? I mean, who even needs to be told about "jury nullification"?

  • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:54PM (#33453080)
    To be honest that's probably the thing about my one time on jury duty that I'm the most proud of. Finishing deliberations, the results were nothing like what I would've expected going into it. Perhaps the fact that it was a civil trial rather than criminal and that we just had to go with the preponderance of evidence and didn't need unanimous consent to reach an agreement.
  • Re:another reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:07PM (#33453326)

    How does someone even reach the age where they can be selected for jury duty without understanding the basic principle that the jurors can decide pretty much whatever they please behind those closed doors? I mean, who even needs to be told about "jury nullification"?

    I imagine this has to do with a combination of factors, namely a campaign on the part of the legal system to suppress knowledge about jury nullification and instruct jurors that they may not use it. The lack of ethics and/or civics classes in modern American secondary education probably has a whole lot to do with it as well, I'm sure.

  • by Lakitu (136170) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:19PM (#33453566)

    Care to explain how you knew the other potential jurors were lying?

  • Re:another reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:29PM (#33455784) Homepage

    A couple of years ago, I was working in a PC repair shop (a real one, not a Geek Squad) with 6 other techs of varying ages (20ish to 45ish), most with 4-year college degrees or working towards them. We were having a discussion about the RIAA's actions, and I mentioned that I'm surprised that no jury in a RIAA-related case has voted for nullfication.

    None of the other techs knew what jury nullification was. Furthermore, none of them believed that it was a real thing once I explained it. And *furthermore,* once I brought up the Wikipedia entry on jury nullification, they all just assumed that Wikipedia was wrong.

    So it does not surprise me at all that people are unfamiliar with the concept. Most high schools don't even teach civics any more.

    --Jeremy

  • Re:about time.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldmac31310 (1845668) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:32PM (#33455832) Homepage
    I think you can be sure that it has happened numerous times before and just hasn't been discovered. It just happened in this case that 'Jaxon Goodman, the 17-year-old son of Etchison's defense lawyer' found the post on Facebook. I hope his dad rewarded him appropriately. But surely the survival of a just legal system (I know, I know it is anything but just) should not have to rely on the efforts of the 17 year old son of the lawyer.

    Regarding Hadley Jons saying sorry - hmmm, I suspect that she was sorry she had to pay a fine and go back to school. I doubt she felt any remorse for making the Facebook post. I expect she will present her essay triple-spaced in 20 point Comic Sans.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shotgun (30919) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:16PM (#33456580)

    Indeed. I wish our voting process was to hand each voter a list of offices followed by a blank line. The poll test would be to write in the candidates name. If you can't correctly spell the name of the candidate you wish to vote for, you obviously haven't done enough research to really know what they stand for, and are to uninformed in matters to be choosing who gets to make the laws.

    But, that's just me.

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

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:17PM (#33457328) Journal

    What is fucking scary is without FB she would have already convicted this person without hearing any evidence just because of their (insert looks, ethnicity, race, etc) and sadly this is all too common. True Story:

    My mother always taught us to do our civic duty, so when she was chosen for jury duty she used her vacation time at the hospital to go. At the end of the trial she came in white as a ghost and said "If you ever get in trouble NEVER have a jury, always ask for a judge!" and when I asked her what spooked her here is what she said. The trial was an arson case, and she thought it was pretty obvious from the get go there wasn't any case there at all. There was no motive, the guy didn't have enough insurance to cover his losses and ended up losing everything. On top of that even the state's arson investigator admitted on the stand they had NO clue as to what had started the fire or where, and couldn't rule out a short or a grease flare up. Yet she had to hang the jury at 11-1 to CONVICT! Why? "Because he is Italian and Italians are in the mob and burn things. Haven't you ever seen "Goodfellas?"

    So yes, this man if it wasn't for my mother would have done 15 years because he was Italian and even though he was in mudsuck AR he must be in the Gambino crime family and do arson jobs because of a movie!

    And frankly with the absolute shit pay they give juries most with a brain like my mom simply can't afford to walk away from their good paying job to attend, so we literally have juries made up of "12 folks too stupid to get out of jury duty". Sad but true, my friends. Sad but true.

  • by bored (40072) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:01PM (#33458688)

    I can't believe no one has referenced the Richard Dawkins paper where he points out some serious flaws in the idea y jury trials.

    If you haven't read it there is a copy here Three herring gull chicks...The reason juries don't work [lucite.org].

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

    by VJ42 (860241) * on Friday September 03, 2010 @04:23AM (#33462326)
    Here in the UK it's the opposite - people I listened to who've sat on a jury have said things along the lines of "if you're guilty take a jury, if you're innocent take a judge" because their experiences have led them to believe that juries are easier to influence and (in general) reluctant to convict.
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vegiVamp (518171) on Friday September 03, 2010 @05:33AM (#33462578) Homepage
    Interestingly, here in Belgium jury leave is legally arranged: you get leave that doesn't come out of your regular leave, for the time you're needed plus travel, up to a max of n days.

    Makes for a much more even distribution of jurors :-)

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