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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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  • about time.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:27AM (#33451194)
    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, I have to say that I am surprised that this has not happened sooner. It was bound to happen eventually. Personally, i think that the punishment should be a little steeper than 250$ and an essay. This is the sort of behavior that needs to be nipped in the bud, set a proper example, and really show that this sort of thing will not be tolerated.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:29AM (#33451246)

    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.'"

    Facebook had nothing to do with it, the problem is people aren't objective. The injustice would have happened no matter if she didn't post anything about it.

  • Re:about time.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:31AM (#33451288) Journal

    +1 hell yes.

    Whether or not the punishment was too lenient / harsh, this needs to get way more publicity...

    One juror learning this the hard way: $250 and a 5-page essay
    Millions of people getting even half a clue about how the system is designed to work by hearing about this: (quite literally) priceless.

  • by gorzek (647352) <gorzek@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:33AM (#33451328) Homepage Journal

    It's not even about common sense, it's more a problem with discretion. I cannot believe some of the things people tweet or post about on Facebook--things that I would think any self-respecting person would know better than to share with the world. It's like it's a contest to see who has the most embarrassing dirty laundry. Then there are the people who think their every stray thought is worth a Facebook status update. Well, it isn't. Odds are, no one cares.

    Most people would be better off if they just kept their mouths shut and their keyboards silent.

  • Unasked Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Luthair (847766) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:33AM (#33451332)
    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.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:37AM (#33451394) Journal

    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, I have to say that I am surprised that this has not happened sooner. It was bound to happen eventually. Personally, i think that the punishment should be a little steeper than 250$ and an essay. This is the sort of behavior that needs to be nipped in the bud, set a proper example, and really show that this sort of thing will not be tolerated.

    Bad: A juror talking about a trial outside of the trial.

    Really, insanely, horribly, justice pervertingly bad: Being selected as a member for a jury and deciding a person's fate before they or their representation has a chance to present their side of the case.

    The bad part was "bound to happen" but not even giving the accused a chance to explain their side of the story? That should never be "bound to happen." And that fundamental issue with how a 'fair trial' should happen in the United States, I think that's why the essay was ordered.

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

    by snookerhog (1835110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:38AM (#33451440)
    The "peers" part continues to stick in my craw a bit. If I am arrested, how likely is it the the jury will have anyone that could be considered my peer?

    it is a jury of fellow citizens and nothing more.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#33451478) Journal

    Jurors aren’t supposed to think, they’re supposed to know. And how exactly can you know until you’ve heard both sides of the case?

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:51AM (#33451682)

    And that's yet another reason you don't want to have anything to do with courts, jury duty, lawyers, judges, or cops.

    They can and will ruin your life if they feel like it.

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

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:52AM (#33451710) Journal

    Yeah, I know, but this is still a whoosh...

    Her “peers” are, logically, people who are just as dumb as she is... and what better way to flush out dumb people than by posting something dumb on facebook and seeing who “likes” it?

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

    by TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:52AM (#33451714)

    you agree not to talk about the case with anyone else

    Agree?? When do you have an opportunity to agree to anything in jury service? You are required to show up on such-and-such date at such-and-such time. You may not wear shorts, tank tops, beach shoes or t-shirts, or any clothing with offensive language or logos. Don't do this, and for heaven's sake, don't do that! Jurors lose quite a bit of freedom when they get that notice in the mail.

    The possible penalties are made abundantly clear.

    Yes indeed, the penalties are stacked neatly up to the ceiling.

  • by kent_eh (543303) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:52AM (#33451726)

    Those that get picked, in many cases, were not smart enough to get themselves dismissed during jury selection.

    Or understand the concept of duty better than you seem to.

    As in the phrase "jury duty"

  • by panda (10044) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:58AM (#33451856) Homepage Journal

    Having gone for jury duty in two states, I can tell you that what you say is not always the case.

    I served on a jury in Kentucky in 1999 or so, and the other jurors struck me as intelligent, level-headed people. We were there to do our civic duty and we did it well, I think. We returned our verdict based on the evidence presented at trial. That is what was asked of us and that *is* what we did.

    Fast forward about 8 to 10 years and I was called to jury duty in Massachusetts. I was saddened by the number of people deliberately lying in an effort to get out of jury duty. What I saw were a bunch of selfish, self-centered consumers, rather than citizens who were willing to do their civic duty to at least attempt to preserve the notion of a fair trial in this country.

    My number was called and I sat in the box. The attorneys have the right to strike jurors for any reason. I was called to the bench to answer questions about my previous jury service and about a past experience as a witness in a trial. I answered those questions as truthfully as I could given the amount of time that had elapsed since either had occurred. One of the attorneys decided to strike me based on my answers to those questions, or perhaps for some other reason. (Ironically, I "got out of" jury duty faster than the people who were lying about knowing something about the case, or being biased, etc.)

    It sickens me when I hear people say things like "too dumb to get out of jury duty." That attitude has contributed to the decline of the criminal justice system in the USA. It's not the only factor, of course, but it is part of the problem when people do not want to participate in something that is vital to freedom in our country.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:02AM (#33451942)

    A system with (multiple) full-time judges avoid some of those errors, but opens another can of worms.

    *shudder*. Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Chamber [wikipedia.org]

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

    by causality (777677) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:06AM (#33452032)

    Yeah, I know, but this is still a whoosh...

    Her “peers” are, logically, people who are just as dumb as she is... and what better way to flush out dumb people than by posting something dumb on facebook and seeing who “likes” it?

    Dumb people aren't all that hard to identify. They're usually rather eager to advertise this fact about themselves, though unwittingly.

    There's nothing like a good old car(-related) analogy so I'll give a driving analogy as an example. A lot of people don't seem to understand that the long turning lanes on many major roads are there for a purpose. They exist so that a driver doesn't have to start slowing down for the turn until after going into the turning lane, eliminating the need to slow down all of the traffic behind them just to make a turn. Yet a lot of drivers don't understand this and will gladly slow down everyone behind them, needlessly, completely oblivious to how their actions affect others. If you ever see traffic slow to a crawl on a day when there aren't that many cars on the road, it's because of a multitude of people who may be several miles ahead doing inconsiderate things like this.

    That's generally the mark of stupid people everywhere. They are capricious, self-serving, and do not act in a deliberate fashion with a full awareness of how their actions affect others. Most of them are not malicious because malice would require intent and an ability to plan one's actions according to that intent, something the stupid are generally unable or unwilling to do. A juror who, if not for this judge, would have conducted a jury trial with an obvious bias without regard for the jeopardy the accused is in would be another iteration of the same pattern.

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

    by Cwix (1671282) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:08AM (#33452068)

    And that's yet another reason you don't want to have anything to do with facebook, twitter, ping or other social networking sites

    They can and will ruin your life if they feel like it.

    FTFY

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

    by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:09AM (#33452080) Journal

    then the person responsible is the person who didn't screen her out. Ultimately, the judge. Will he be writing an essay too?

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:14AM (#33452168)

    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.'"

    Facebook had nothing to do with it, the problem is people aren't objective. The injustice would have happened no matter if she didn't post anything about it.

    That's a bit high and mighty, isn't it? I'm fairly certain there's a solid chance that any person / every person could decide to convict based on hearing only half of the story. You might elect to not tell anyone you had done so, but depending on the case, this may well be the correct choice. Labeling it as in injustice assumes that the decision was incorrect. We just don't know that yet, do we?

    Imagine the prosecution lays out a case with video, DNA, eyewitness evidence, and a confession. Imagine further that the DA wanted to plea them out, but the defendant would rather be on TV, and insisted on a trial. You would, in this hypothetical case, come away from the first day with the conclusion that the defense would need a miracle to win the case. And, assuming the accused was some sort of scumbag, you'd probably be rooting for them to fail to find one.

    Anyway, it seems bizarre that you'd bash her for jumping to conclusions by jumping to conclusions.

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

    by TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:14AM (#33452170)

    The issue isn't getting out of jury service, the issue is that once you are a juror you are given no choice but to "agree" to a number of rules. There is no meeting of minds so a juror isn't really agreeing, just complying.

    I might add that it is getting harder to avoid jury service, even if various tricks work in some courts. I wish jury service was a voluntary duty, not unlike voting.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:18AM (#33452248)

    The one criminal jury I was on had a pretty good cross-section in terms of education and experience. As I recall, only one potential jurors was removed: one who had previously served on a jury that failed to reach a verdict.

    They want dumb jurors and it is what we get.

    Each side in a jury trial wants jurors that are as well disposed as possible to their side, and has an incentive to remove jurors that they feel will be unreceptive to the arguments that they plan to use. Additionally, either side (and often both sides) have an interest in the jury actually reaching a verdict. Aside from the strong evidence of bias needed for a removal for cause, they have a limited number of peremptory challenges that they may use to accomplish this, which limits their ability to shape juries.

    Aside from the potential shared interest in reaching a verdict, these interests are generally directly opposed, so where one party has an interest in removing intelligent potential jurors, the other party would generally have an interest in removing less-intelligent members of the jury pool, though I don't think its really that common where that would be a factor, anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:18AM (#33452250)

    I think the issue is more due to a generational gap in expectations. The generation that is using Facebook to post those things does not feel embarrased by thier dirty laundry. The issue is that old foggies like you and I are still laboring under our outdated expectations, so there is a generational culture clash.

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

    by NevarMore (248971) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:19AM (#33452262) Homepage Journal

    I wish jury service was a voluntary duty, not unlike voting.

    I don't. Then you get busybodies, bored seniors, moral crusaders, wannabe cops, wannabe lawyers, wannabe judges, and people desperate for the small paycheck instead of a jury of my peers.

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

    by gfreeman (456642) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:19AM (#33452264)

    The issue isn't getting out of jury service, the issue is that once you are a citizen you are given no choice but to "agree" to a number of laws.

    FTFY.

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billius (1188143) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:20AM (#33452288)

    $250 fine. First class, well done. You hit back at someone doing you a favour when they do a bad job. *clap clap clap*.

    What a self-important moron this judge is.

    A favor? They call it "jury duty" for a reason. Under the 6th Amendment, every US Citizen has the right to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury and it is the duty of all citizens to help provide for this right. Obviously the devil is in the details when it comes to finding a truly impartial jury, but it's a pretty obvious (and serious!) breach of decorum and a complete abandonment of duty to post "gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY" on Facebook for crying out loud. If she really didn't want to be there, all she had to do was make up an extreme point of view on something and she would have been dismissed. She was letting down all parties involved in the case and all of her fellow citizens by doing this. I bet if she ever got in trouble with the law, she'd want a juror absent of anyone make snide comments about her on Facebook.

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

    by Altus (1034) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:24AM (#33452368) Homepage

    A friend of mine came up with a name for the group of people who drive in these kinds of passively inconsiderate ways, impeding everyone's forward progress.

    He calls them "The Anti-destination League"

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:25AM (#33452390)

    It's not even about common sense, it's more a problem with discretion. I cannot believe some of the things people tweet or post about on Facebook--things that I would think any self-respecting person would know better than to share with the world. It's like it's a contest to see who has the most embarrassing dirty laundry. Then there are the people who think their every stray thought is worth a Facebook status update. Well, it isn't. Odds are, no one cares.

    Most people would be better off if they just kept their mouths shut and their keyboards silent.

    Discretion is not compatible with the narcissism and vanity that drives a person to think that the world needs to know every last detail about their personal lives, as though they were a celebrity who can hardly shop at a grocery store without having it published in the tabloids. That's why the people with discretion are relatively silent compared to the ones you're talking about.

    Common sense does not begin to enter the picture until well after vanity is recognized as the empty and useless pursuit that it is and rejected on those terms. Until then, any satisfaction derived from personal exhibitionism is hollow and fleeting which is why the person must engage in more and more of it to maintain the sense that they are "somebody". If it accomplished anything or had any lasting value, then there would not be the need you have recognized to sink lower and lower and engage in it more and more intensely. It is, as they say, a chasing after the wind.

    Now, I really enjoy and appreciate freedom. I recognize that this includes the right to do something self-defeating and stupid as long as you don't force others to participate. So I believe it would be wrong to lift a finger towards trying to stop anyone from doing this. The point is, there are very good reasons why I haven't jumped on this bandwagon. It is not just a matter of personal taste or preference no matter how badly some want to legitimize it by portraying it that way.

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dotfile (536191) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:25AM (#33452416)

    Ummm, no. He slapped someone with a fine for violating very specific instructions (not to mention the law), and for causing problems and needless expense and delay for the defendant, attorneys, and other jurors.

    It's not like Jons just offered to serve on a jury out of the goodness of her heart, had no instructions about how she had to do her job and got fined for an innocent mistake. She was called upon to do her civic duty - as any citizen can be. She received specific instructions about the hows and whys of serving on a jury. Then she apparently decided to ignore the instructions, and that her ability to post whatever crap wandered through her head on Facebook was more important than the right of the defendant to a fair trial.

    Bra-vo. Good show. Kudos to the judge for not only giving her a proportionate fine, but for also giving her some more meaningful work to do so she understands WHY what she did was bone-headed and wrong.

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

    by capnchicken (664317) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:33AM (#33452578)

    Wait ... I thought registering to vote determined one's eligibility to serve on a jury. Not registered to vote? No jury duty.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:37AM (#33452670)

    God forbid society should ask something of you in return for all the things it gives you the rest of the time.

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

    by blincoln (592401) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:55AM (#33453120) Homepage Journal

    They exist so that a driver doesn't have to start slowing down for the turn until after going into the turning lane, eliminating the need to slow down all of the traffic behind them just to make a turn.

    Most of the lanes I know of like that are shared between both directions of traffic. Not slowing down before moving into them sounds like a good way to end up in a head-on collision at high speed.

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

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:14PM (#33453476) Homepage

    I wish jury service was a voluntary duty, not unlike voting.

    Funny, I wish voting was mandatory, not unlike jury duty.

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

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:28PM (#33453748) Homepage Journal

    But the fact that actual IQ score samples form a symmetric bell curve centered on 100 does.

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

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:30PM (#33453762) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately the law does not allow judges to keep stupid people off of juries. Some kind of anti discrimination thing...

    Plus remember the Average IQ is 100, that means 2 out of 5 people are below 100 IQ and are therefore Morons. we cant discriminate against 2/3rds of the population.

    Why can't we discriminate against 2/3rds of the population? And perhaps you were joking, but you know that 2/5 and 2/3 are not the same fraction, right?

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

    by sanosuke001 (640243) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:42PM (#33453984)
    Me, I wish voting/jury duty was reserved for those that can prove they know something about whats going on instead of getting the most retarded people in the country deciding the fate of everyone.
  • Re:another reason (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:46PM (#33454078)

    Jury nullification is an extremely closely guarded "secret." DAs don't talk about it. Judges don't talk about it. Mentioning it during a juror interview is a good way to have yourself immediately ejected from the building. They don't teach it in civics class (and if they did, the teacher would be "disappeared" from teaching the class). The entire justice system does not want you to know about nullification and they will go to great lengths to make sure you don't know about it. If you mention it in a room full of other potential jurors, everybody will be sent home.

    So don't try to tell somebody he's an idiot because he doesn't know about it.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:53PM (#33454186) Homepage

    I think we're coming at this from different angles. Of course you're going to be forming and reforming opinions throughout the trial. It's how you analyze the data being presented to you. No human is going to be able to sit as a passive sponge, absorbing information until they have all of it and are finally ready to analyze it as a cohesive whole. It's not in our natures.

    There's a difference, though, between sitting and thinking "Hmm, that piece of evidence doesn't look good for the defendant" or even "Based on what I've seen so far he seems guilty", and "This dude is guilty, and I can't wait to fry him for it." Even if the only place that exists is in your head, it creates a natural bias in how you look at everything else that comes in front of you. If you publish the thought on Facebook it's going to be even more prejudicial, because now you don't want to look like an idiot by changing your mind after being so certain before. There's a reason jurors are told to keep an open mind during trials. Generally, once you've come to firm decision, even one based on incomplete or unclear data, it's harder to change your mind.

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

    by NetNed (955141) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:00PM (#33454296)
    So to sum up could we use the iconic words of Forest Gump, "stupid is as stupid does"?
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:20PM (#33454592)

    This is satirical, right? I'm not quite sure, the content seems satirical but the tone could go either way.

  • by rm999 (775449) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:40PM (#33454946)

    I'm confused, you say "sure you can take the evidence and make it fit your preconceived notions", but you also say "the fucker was guilty but the state did not prove their case". So, aren't you somehow applying your notions instead of the evidence? How are you so sure the guy was guilty?

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by B Nesson (1153483) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:03PM (#33456388)
    I would lean more toward, "If she really didn't want to be there, all she had to do was live in another country."
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:15PM (#33456560)
    Funny. Americans breaking into Canada to steal health-care seems to be just as common.
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:23PM (#33456660)
    If you are in the states you can just say something like "glenn beck is such a leader" and whoever agrees with you... tada

    Also, "Al Gore inspired me to carry a gun and some poorly made bombs into the Discovery Channel headquarters where I took hostages in the name of stopping the births of more parasitic human babies. He's my leader." That's always a good test, too. Just listen for the people who say, "Well, you know, he really does have a solid, valid view of things. His protest theatre was just a bit over the top. Everyone knows that giant puppets and drum banging is much more effective. Well, that and smashing a Starbucks window, obviously."
  • Re:5 page paper? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:51PM (#33457034) Homepage Journal

    That's generally the mark of stupid people everywhere. They are capricious, self-serving, and do not act in a deliberate fashion with a full awareness of how their actions affect others.

    Good God, you've just described Objectivists!

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

    by ikarous (1230832) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:04PM (#33457184)

    And that's yet another reason you don't want to have anything to do with facebook, twitter, ping or other social networking sites

    They can and will ruin your life if they feel like it.

    FTFY

    While I wholeheartedly agree with your feelings toward social media, Facebook is not culpable here. If this young woman had gone and plastered her silly comment on a billboard, would the billboard be at fault? Jury rules exist for the citizens' protection and should be enforced judiciously. This girl acted stupidly. The medium transmitting that stupidity had nothing to do with the infraction itself.

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

    by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:31PM (#33458298) Homepage

    Your proposal is terrifying.

    How many innocent people will go to prison or even be executed because they aren't liked by the insiders you'd have running the jury system?

    It's bad enough for those who oppose or anger the system, but this would make it far worse.

    P.S.

    What is wrong with this website today? 'It's been 4 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment' - last time I checked 4 is more than 2 (neither post was anonymous). Is this the new math the credit card companies and banks use?

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

    by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:55PM (#33460888)

    Good idea. Let's have a test to prove you can read and write. And also a poll-tax, so we can know that you're not some destitute moron. Also let's put some questions on that literacy test to make sure you're a protestant and not one of those loony religions, and a quick inspection to make sure you're genetically OK -- ie. white.

    The slope is slipperier than a six foot long 2x6 smeared with okra propped up with a couple of bricks on one end.

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie

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