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The Courts Cellphones Communications Handhelds United States

Should Smartphones Be Allowed In Court? 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-your-honor-my-app-says-he's-guilty dept.
coondoggie writes "Federal courts have been debating how much freedom users of smartphones and portable wireless devices in general should have in a federal courthouse. Some say they should be banned outright, while others say they should be allowed, but their use curtailed (PDF). Unregulated use of smartphones has resulted in mistrials, exclusion of jurors and fines in some case."
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Should Smartphones Be Allowed In Court?

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  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:24PM (#35646258) Homepage

    50% of the time jurors are just forced to sit there while nothing is happening. They're not allowed to do much, so why not let them play Angry Birds?

    • Too bad you're a nice guy. Now put an Evil hat on.

      Let them play Angry Jurors!

      Or just watch Dominic Tocci's flash creations in succession. The sum total of them will disqualify everyone.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ls671 (1122017) * on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:38PM (#35646394) Homepage

      Don't forget jurors are sometimes sequestered with no access to any type of news so they are not "contaminated" by mass media or other type of news. At least in those cases, smart phones would be a big no-no.

      They are sometimes allowed to get newspapers although where the articles regarding the trial they are involved in are removed when they are sequestered for weeks.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pclminion (145572) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:48PM (#35646494)

      Perhaps they should spend that idle time pondering the importance of the decisions they will be making and the impacts those decisions will have on the various parties involved -- and taking stock of their own capacity to be objective, their own internalized biases, and personal foibles, in order to offer a fairer verdict at the end of the process. Instead of playing Angry Birds. Just a thought.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by gatzke (2977)

        Blah blah blah. Overruled.

        Angry Birds, FTW!

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Because Angry Birds requires so much concentration?

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Monday March 28, 2011 @07:13PM (#35646698)

        Yeah, but after 5 minutes thought, then what?

        It's not really a surprise no one wants to be a juror, you're treated almost like the prisoner in some case, cut off from the world and with shitty pay to boot.

        • by ls671 (1122017) *

          I totally agree, the average quality of jurors is very mild. This is why the courts should be allowed to pick jurors from a pool they choose.

          This is how it currently works technically. But in real life, all you have to say to be disqualified from a juror role is that you can't stand any type of criminality and that any criminal should be sentenced to death even if he is only suspected of a crime.

          Getting paid more and getting more advantages might indeed refrain yourself from doing just that but it is a hard

          • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

            by PCM2 (4486) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:53PM (#35647450) Homepage

            But in real life, all you have to say to be disqualified from a juror role is that you can't stand any type of criminality and that any criminal should be sentenced to death even if he is only suspected of a crime.

            When's the last time you sat on a jury? I once saw a guy try to pull the old "I hate all niggers" routine, which is only slightly more obvious than what you suggest. The judge asked him whether he wouldn't be able to put aside his preconceptions and evaluate the case fairly. He said no he would not. The judge reminded him of his obligations as a juror. He persisted with his tactic -- which, no doubt, the judge had seen a hundred times before. The judge ended up holding him in contempt of court.

            • by ls671 (1122017) *

              Agreed, I might have expressed it in a too simplistic way. Yet, by being just a little more subtle, it isn't that hard to get disqualified. Did you ever had a friend who was a victim in similar cases, etc. ?

              Most people realted to the matter will tell you that it isn't that hard to get disqualified, shame on me if I made it sound too simplistic.

              Bottom line, people earning 250,000$ a year or more will call their layer for a good speech to get out of it so in the end, the jurors aren't really representative o

            • by ls671 (1122017) *

              Furthermore, bottom line, if you resist to the idea of being a juror, you should be disqualified because you might impair the jury for revenge. This is the spirit of the law. I could plead that the judge forcing you to be a juror when you don't want to is indeed committing an offense with regards to the spirit of the law. This would be sufficient grounds for mistrial if everything was going by the book.

               

            • Well, if you're not a moron, it's still not too hard. I have numerous beliefs that I'm pretty sure would disqualify me from any criminal jury (jury nullification is probably the most generally-applicable, although a complete lack of belief in the credibility of LEOs should do the job just as well). A contempt citation for failure to agree with the judge isn't going to hold, anyway, and I've got enough money and time to make the judge regret it if he issues one.
              • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @05:08AM (#35650414) Homepage

                Kind of sad, though. I mean, are you absolutely certain that you will never stand trial before a jury, for anything? And if not, who would you like to be on that jury?

                Me, I honestly don't have a problem with sitting on a jury. Some people treat it like they're being drafted to Vietnam. It's not like that at all (and it happens to me every single year, so I know). It's a pain in the ass, but it's actually pretty interesting, and in the end it's seldom much of a drain on your time. Especially a criminal jury; criminal trials are usually short, and often last just a day or two. You're much more likely to get called for a strong-arm robbery or a drug sales charge than for a murder. (Civil trials, on the other hand, are a totally different matter, and can last months -- I dread the times I'm called for those.)

                So to my previous point, fuck's sake -- these people who are on trial for these criminal charges, they're people just like you. A lot of them are scumbag criminals, but some of them didn't even do what they're charged with. This is the essence of our jury system: It's not some elitist racket designed to let people like you dodge being on jury duty. Rather, it's designed so that people like you will sit on juries so that people like you don't go to prison for breaking laws they never broke.

                • by 228e2 (934443)
                  ^This. All of this. Is what we need more of.

                  Because when its your ass in front of a jury for some, any reason, I would assume you wouldnt want people making the decision that gets them out of there the fastest.
          • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

            It's not a hard problem at all in a country where we're taxed on our income and have to file reports on it to the government every year.

            Just have prospective jurors bring in their most recent pay stub or 1090 (Or do freelancers file a different form? They can just bring that one.), and pay them whatever their daily would be otherwise; no more, no less. It's not like you wouldn't be able to catch cheats by an automated cross-reference when all the data input is done.

            (I know from personal experience that th

            • by ls671 (1122017) *

              I agree with the basic principles you expressed, but a freelancer doesn't necessarily have a steady income even if the person is fully legit with regards to report income. Average income for the past years might be irrelevant if the person is waiting for a big contract while asked to be a juror.

              Of course, things are simpler for employed people.

        • by westlake (615356)

          It's not really a surprise no one wants to be a juror, you're treated almost like the prisoner in some case, cut off from the world and with shitty pay to boot.

          Which implies that the prospecrive juror that stays the course is serious about the business.

          The civic minded, small-C conservative who believes in law and order. You might want to think about that the next time a geek plays the "jury nullification" card.

        • You fu$$ing what? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tigger's Pet (130655)

          You obviously haven't been a prisoner then - have you? I have! I spent 2 weeks going through a trial where there was not a single piece of evidence offered against me, other than one person's word again mine. At the end of that two weeks I was found guilty of a crime I didn't commit and got to spend the next 6 years, 8 months in prison because our legal system sucks.
          Do you want to know how much time I spent during that period thinking about how sorry I felt for the jurors and how much they must have suff

          • by tehcyder (746570)
            Sorry, but no one in a civilized country gets sent to jail for 6 years based on one person's word and not a single piece of evidence. I just don't believe you.
      • Perhaps they should spend that idle time pondering the importance of the decisions they will be making and the impacts those decisions will have on the various parties involved -- and taking stock of their own capacity to be objective, their own internalized biases, and personal foibles, in order to offer a fairer verdict at the end of the process. Instead of playing Angry Birds. Just a thought.

        How exactly do I ponder anything at all about the decision I will be making in the many, many hours I sit there in the waiting room, before I've even been selected to go into a courtroom to see if maybe I might get picked for a trial?

    • by shentino (1139071)

      If it weren't for lawyers doing a lot of grandstanding and dragging out court cases for eons on end I'd have less sympathy for bored jurors.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        It's not so much that. If a lawyer, witness, or judge is talking, the jurors should be paying attention. That sort of thing may be important to the trial, even if it's dull.

        But if there's some drawn-out procedural issues taking place, most of the courtroom is going to be bored out of their minds and rightfully so.

  • banned outright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:25PM (#35646264) Homepage Journal

    No different then cameras or other recording devices in most courts.

    Leave them at the door.

    • by fishbowl (7759)

      I had a court confiscate the book I was reading (it was Dostoevsky, The Idiot, but I actually don't think it was based on the content.)
      I didn't mind being chosen for jury duty, provided I would be allowed to read during the incredibly long, boring downtime you get where there is nothing to do but wait. But once they took away my book, it set me on a path of trying to get out of serving. (This was easy, they asked me what magazines I read, and without even lying I have a pretty subversive list :-)

  • Ban the thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JonySuede (1908576)

    Ban the thing and surround the whole stage with a strong Faraday cage and install repeater for doctor pager. The court is supposed be a spectacle that stands out of time. It is not something of the common man, it should be grand, imposing and restrictive to ensure a certain level of deference.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      By all means ban smartphones from the court. The cameras most of them have are already illegal in many jurisdictions, and there is nothing you can do with a smartphone that you should be doing in court.

      For that matter, I'd say ban cellphones period. The court is not a place to be text messaging, and you sure as hell aren't going to be taking calls anyhow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:31PM (#35646332)

    in my local courthouse for several years, due to fear of courtroom observers using texting to coordinate witness testimony. That decision was made when the clerk of court's teenage son showed him that he could text with his phone in his shirt pocket.

    • by mmj638 (905944)

      Strangely enough, that skill seems to be universal to all people born later than about 1990, and yet it's something I've never known someone my age (30) to be able to do. It'd be certainly impossible on my touch phone.

      A school teacher friend fills me in on these things. The other thing that sets such young people apart is sending 50-200 texts a day, whereas I'd be lucky if I sent 5. Who knew - pre-paid plans aimed at teens with less than 1 cent per text are readily available. And they have their phones

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Same here. In the City of San Francisco, cell phones and other mobile devices are allowed in the jury assembly room, and they even provide free WiFi, but everything must be switched off once you're inside the courtroom.

  • Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:33PM (#35646350)

    It's the behavior that's wrong, not the technology. You can ban smartphones, but then you'll be banning tablets, then watches, then glasses with microdisplays, etc.

    Treat the problem, not the symptom.

    • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Monday March 28, 2011 @07:04PM (#35646604)
      Problem with that is that our culture is gaining a sense of entitlement thanks to the "always connected" fad. How do you convince people that it's wrong to use tech in courtrooms when everything else is telling them that it's their God-given right to have 24-7 access to Twitter? I too believe in treating the disease before the symptoms, but this goes much deeper than - as one poster put it - jurors playing Angry Birds. People first need to realise that just because they can do something doesn't always mean they should, which may sound like common sense but seems to be lacking in the general population.
      • How do you convince people that it's wrong to use tech in courtrooms when everything else is telling them that it's their God-given right to have 24-7 access to Twitter?

        Welp, we did teach people not to smoke inside.

      • There's nothing wrong with the behaviors - as someone pointed out upthread, he had a book confiscated by the court. Trying to kill time until chosen to serve or dismissed is perfectly respectable - it's not as though the judges are required not to listen to the radio in chambers while doing a bit of paperwork before a court session.

        Yes, when a trial is going on, the jurors should be paying attention. But until then?
      • by metlin (258108)

        Well, here is the thing -- technology is inevitable. Imagine when wetware becomes common, and your brain is always "connected".

        While misuse -- such as playing a game -- shouldn't be condoned, it is no different than reading a book, doodling on a notepad, or staring off into space. If folks are uninterested, there is nothing you can do to get them interested.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Funny, I have seen the opposite. A culture of people who feel they must stop other people from having 24-7 access. I would say that a courtroom, like a movie theater is an inappropriate place to have phones ringing, but look at all the other places that we see things like signs say "Turn off cell phone." Personally, I find it highly offensive when I am in a doctors waiting room, with their phones ringing off the hook, and the doctor 20 minutes late to their appointment, and there is a sign on the wall te
        • by eleuthero (812560)
          The only time I've ever had anyone in a hospital or doctor's office ever request that I actually turn a phone off was in the radiology section. Apparently there is concern (I have no idea if it is founded or not) that the radio in the phone, when active, will cause problems with sensitive testing equipment. Everyone else simply has the "no cell phone" policy because they, like everyone else, likes to be able to get work accomplished without having to think over the noise of an angry family member to a patie
  • by guspasho (941623) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:33PM (#35646352)

    Isn't the status quo currently that judges decide whether to allow them or not? Why not let them continue to do so? If you're going to ban them outright, then why? And what possible justification is there for not banning notepads and pens and other recording devices?

    • by Ruke (857276) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:49PM (#35646504)
      A pen and notepad is not a broadcasting device. And use of many other recording devices is restricted: you will often only see hand-drawn illustrations of court cases because cameras were not allowed in the courthouse.
    • by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Monday March 28, 2011 @07:14PM (#35646706) Homepage

      When I served on a jury the bailiff collected our cell phones before the trial and gave them back afterward. They also provided all writing materials and collected them when the trial was over. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      • by eleuthero (812560)
        What I write is mine... unless there's something in the $3/day contract they push on people that indicates they have ownership of it... either way, if they choose to let me write down material that becomes a part of public record, they had better give me a copy at the least if not the original. Doodles are important after all.
  • Stop letting judges restrict the information and arguments to which jurors are exposed.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:50PM (#35646516)
      So, you think it's okay for jurors to, on their own, access information pertinent to the case, without giving the defense or prosecution an opportunity to examine that information and discuss it in court? You think people should be convicted based on secret information their attorneys didn't even know about? Nice...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:56PM (#35646562)

      So are you saying they should throw out all rules for evidence such as speculation, hearsay, conjecture, etc.?

      Jurors are charged with making a ruling based on the evidence presented not the "evidence" they can Google.

  • Are laptop computers banned? Desktops? Internet? Logically extend.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:44PM (#35646448)
    If your intention is to deliberately keep jurors ignorant, then yes, jurors should be banned from using smart phones while sequestered. If your intention is to keep spectators from leaking information about the trial, that ship sailed a long time ago... the technology to undetectably get pictures and audio recordings of testimony out of the courtroom has been around for a while.
    • by gclef (96311)

      Another poster brought up the biggest point: both sides need the ability to rebut testimony or evidence. If the news site a juror is reading is publishing stuff about a trial that (for whatever reason) isn't being brought up in court, that's unfair to one side. It's not about keeping the jurors ignorant as much as making sure that both sides get a chance to have their shot at any testimony or facts presented in the court.

      Think about all the stuff that's reported wrongly in the news...now imagine someone poo

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:45PM (#35646454) Homepage

    I have a friend who practiced in the U.S. District Court in Mass. Early on he had a Windows Mobile phone, which of course he kept his schedule. When the Court was banning cell phones, he would have to get permission from the court so that he could check his schedule on his phone, as did opposing counsel.

    In Los Angeles, they would ban cell phones with cameras for a while, for non-attorneys. This was stopped between 2008 and 2010. I suspect that since most people have their schedules on their phones, it would make it very hard to schedule any proceedings if phones were banned.

    As far as jurors, there must be some restriction on information access/communications during the period that they are on a jury (as opposed to being in the pool). Not only so that they are untainted, but also so they are undistracted.

    Camera Phones don't take pictures, people take pictures.

    • "I suspect that since most people have their schedules on their phones, it would make it very hard to schedule any proceedings if phones were banned."

      With all the money that attorneys make, I'm sure they can afford a pen-and-paper DayRunner.

      • Having a schedule on a computer and phone is so much better.

        It lets others check your schedule, or schedule with you. With scheduling software, you can select the people to invite and then have the computer identify when everyone is available. Not make the appointment and then spend 4 days figuring out the best time.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:46PM (#35646460) Homepage
    1. The ones that just don't care. It is beyond their ability to be interested and sometimes need to be woken up during the trial. Whatever way the wind is blowing that will be their decision - going with the flow, majority rules and must be right.
    2. The sort that is sure there is something "wrong" in the trial and want to figure it out for themselves. For example, during a medical malpractice proceeding they are sure the anesthesiologist must be mistaken from their vast experience due to Aunt Sally having a terrible time with her last operation. So they want to spend a lot of time with WebMD and various blogs about people with anesthesia problems hoping to be able to prove their point.

    Of course, what we get in the US is a predominance of both of these sorts of jurors. They watch a lot of TV and are sure they have stumbled into something interesting. Or they are there because there isn't anything else interesting to do at the rest home. Worse, they didn't want to serve, couldn't think of a way out of it and now are there and are very, very hostile about it - he must be guilty or he wouldn't have been arrested, can we go now?

    The smartphone is of use to both these sorts of people and in neither case is it useful or helpful but is actually very, very damaging to the system. And if you happen to be the guy on trial with 10 of these sorts of jurors you are going to be very angry at the guilty verdict.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Now I understand the problem with jurors going out on their own and seeking evidence - I don't want an unqualified juror looking up hokem on a pseudo-science site and making their mind up on specialized evidence any more than the next guy. But one problem with the legal system is that the jurors are can't ask questions and have them answered. They can only go on the evidence presented which is sometimes (maddeningly to them) incomplete. There should be a structured and guided way to do this rather than just

      • by mpe (36238)
        Now I understand the problem with jurors going out on their own and seeking evidence - I don't want an unqualified juror looking up hokem on a pseudo-science site and making their mind up on specialized evidence any more than the next guy.

        It's entirely possible that "hookem" and "psudo-science" describe what an expert witness is saying.

        But one problem with the legal system is that the jurors are can't ask questions and have them answered. They can only go on the evidence presented which is sometimes (ma
        • by syousef (465911)


          It's entirely possible that "hookem" and "psudo-science" describe what an expert witness is saying.

          Yes but they are brought in because they supposedly understand a field well. If they aren't suitable expert witnesses the lawyers should be objecting.

          It's the job of the lawyers to ensure that witnesses are properly cross-examined.
          It is also the job of the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. That's what "innocent until proven guilty" means. If a juror thinks the "evidence" is incomplete they should just ignore it.

          And that is the problem. Human beings are use to making decisions on incomplete data. It's against our nature not to. In evolutionary terms those who froze were eaten, squashed, or otherwise killed. Asking a juror to disengage their curiosity but still engage their ability to think critically is ridiculous.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Yes but they are brought in because they supposedly understand a field well. If they aren't suitable expert witnesses the lawyers should be objecting.

            So, lawyer messes up, and client goes to jail? That hardly seems like justice to me. Are we punishing people for their crimes, or for failing to hire the right lawyer or not being able to argue their case pro se?

            And that is the problem. Human beings are use to making decisions on incomplete data. It's against our nature not to. In evolutionary terms those who froze were eaten, squashed, or otherwise killed. Asking a juror to disengage their curiosity but still engage their ability to think critically is ridiculous.

            Agree. I think the underlying root problem here is that those involved with courts would prefer that the jury weren't there at all. Trials are almost designed to force the jury to come to a conclusion pre-ordained by principles of law and precedent and willingness to spend more to buy the verdic

  • by meerling (1487879) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:54PM (#35646550)
    There is a case where a judge declared a mistrial because one of the lawyers used a big $2 word that few average people would understand. They wouldn't define/explain the word to the jury, nor even let them look in a dictionary, so one of them used his phone to check an online dictionary. That's the whole reason the judge declared a mistrial.
    I think that judge in particular needs to get whacked with a clue-by-four.

    In my opinion there does need to be some standard rules regarding the use of these devices, but completely banning them is not a good choice. Even so, a single stupid or technophobic judge will screw over anything no matter what.
  • Lawyers Only? (Score:4, Informative)

    by GrifterCC (673360) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:57PM (#35646570)
    I practice before the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia at Alexandria, and they do not allow anyone, including lawyers, to bring their smartphones in. It's routine to have to look at your calendar on the fly when the judge wants to schedule something, so you have to have it with you. The EDVA policy is the main reason I still maintain a paper calendar parallel to my computer calendar.

    I understand and buy into the rationale behind not letting jurors bring them in, but the state courts in the area almost universally allow lawyers to bring their smartphones in, and it's such a bonus.
    • Re:Lawyers Only? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by demonlapin (527802) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:38PM (#35647328) Homepage Journal
      As others have pointed out in the past, though I can't remember where, the entire jury experience is miserable because jurors are the only part of the system that has no control or way to influence future behavior - judges have immense control over lawyers appearing before them, of course, but the lawyers also have some feedback into the system, while no jury can "punish" a judge or lawyer for misleading them.
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Yup. The way the system works was made quite evident for me when I was sitting in the court room being voir dired. They always ask "does anybody have a reason they couldn't sit on a trial of n days?" It is made fairly obvious that work is not generally considered a valid excuse (since on paper you can't be fired for being selected, though if like most professionals you're just paid to get a job done then you end up working weekends or whatever to make it up).

        However, it became clear that there is one pro

  • by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Monday March 28, 2011 @06:58PM (#35646584) Journal

    Tell you what- when I'm allowed to bring my smartphone in for my SAT, then we'll talk about letting the jury have them.

    • by Ritchie70 (860516)

      In the case of the SAT, the point is to find out what you know and how you think.

      In the point of the jury, the point (in theory at least) is to arrive at a fair and correct verdict as to the matter before the court.

      At that point it becomes less clear to me whether the jury should have access to unfettered information or not.

      • Re:Here's an idea. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bws111 (1216812) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:12PM (#35647162)

        How can it be less clear? The whole point of a trial is that the jury does NOT have unfettered access to information.

        First and most obvious are the rules of evidence - if you are on trial, do you want the jury to have access to the results of an illegal search that just happened to be 'leaked'? Do you want the jury to search the papers and find that you have been charged with the same type of offense before?

        Next is the constitutional right to confront your accuser. A juror looking up information on his own is not giving the defense a chance to rebut the information. Also, the defense (or even the prosecution) would not have prior knowledge of what things a juror was looking up, so they would not have time to prepare a proper rebuttal (get expert witnesses, etc).

        Giving jurors access to information outside the courtroom is just an awful idea.

        • Active jurors hearing a current trial, yes. But banning them from jurors is very different from banning them from a courthouse, or from the pool of potential jurors.
          • by bws111 (1216812)

            Oh, I agree. But the post I was responding to didn't say 'potential jurors' or 'people in the courthouse', he said jury, which to my mind means people that are actively serving on a trial.

          • Agreed entierly. If you're waiting for something, sure, whip out your phone- but if somebody sees one during a trial...

  • by kuzb (724081) on Monday March 28, 2011 @07:01PM (#35646596)

    Why not allow them to have their mobile devices, but jam cell frequencies so they can't be 'contaminated' ?

  • It's the stupid people who are using the smart phones.

  • by germansausage (682057) on Monday March 28, 2011 @07:58PM (#35647054)
    I don't want to spoil the usual misinformed ranting with a bunch of facts, but I just finished jury duty, and this is how it works: The sherrif collects everybody's cell phones and locks them up in a little foam lined briefcase at the start of court every day. You get them back for lunch break and when you leave for the day. Once we were sequestered there were no phones, period, till we reached a verdict.
  • I think the system we have here in Australia works well (no idea how it works in the US). Phones allowed in the courthouse, but not in the courtroom. When I was on a jury a couple of years ago, we had to put our phones in a box before going on to the jury. Once we left the courtroom, we could pick up our phones and use them like normal. Not even from the smartphone side, but a jury shouldn't have any distractions like that while listening to a trial.

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