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Judge To Newspaper - Reveal Name of Commenter 307

Posted by samzenpus
from the naming-names dept.
First time accepted submitter Andy Prough writes "A Kansas judge has ordered a Topeka newspaper to release the name of a commenter on one of its stories about the trial of Anceo D. Stovall for the murder of Natalie Gibson. Using the name 'BePrepared,' the commenter posted the following in response to a story about the ongoing trial on July 21 at 1:45pm: 'Trust me that's all they got in their little world, as you know, I have been there. Remember the pukes names they will do it for ever.' The problem? The court is convinced that 'BePrepared' was a juror, and was not supposed to be accessing news about the trial before it ended on July 24th. The court wants BePrepared's name, address and IP address. The jury was ultimately unable to find Stovall guilty of 10 of the 11 charges against him — including murder. Both defense and prosecution lawyers appear to want a new trial, and if it turns out that BePrepared was a juror, they are more likely to get their wish."
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Judge To Newspaper - Reveal Name of Commenter

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  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:07AM (#41840623) Homepage

    News why?

    - Juror suspected of perjury.
    - Court issues order to place that published posts which have a reasonable chance of providing evidence of said perjury, to provide the bare minimum of information to identify the poster.
    - If it's not him, end of case.
    - If it is him, file for mistrial, pursue conviction against him.

    Why is this news? This is bog-standard legal procedure for any medium whatsoever (e.g. newspaper letters page would be the same, or CCTV of him in a pub meeting the defendant, or whatever).

    Because "The Internet" means you should be anonymous, untraceable and able to commit criminal acts? Is that the logic?

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

      by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:10AM (#41840649)

      Except it's not perjury. :) The juror is accused of violating sequester rules, not of lying under oath.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:20AM (#41840697)

        The last time I was a juror I had to swear under oath that I would not/did not access outside sources of information about the trial at hand.

        • Re:News? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:38AM (#41840817)

          The last time I was a juror I had to swear under oath that I would not/did not access outside sources of information about the trial at hand.

          Yeah but anyone too dumb to get out of jury duty is not credible.

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:51AM (#41840937)

            Yeah, because if I were on trial, I'd want a bunch of morons on the jury. Only idiots brag about getting out of jury duty. The idea is that you approach it as a civic duty and you hope to hell your jury members do too if you're ever on trial.

            • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:00AM (#41841011)

              Last time I had jury duty I could easily have gotten out of it, but chose instead to be a productive citizen and not do so.

              Anyone who approaches jury duty with the "I want out of this" attitude should certainly not be sitting on one. They are far less likely to take the responsibility seriously, thus leading to dumb fucking decisions like the Samsung/Apple $1bn judgement.

              • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:53AM (#41841491) Journal
                The reason, I think, that people "want out of it" is simply because it is too disruptive for them. It's not necessarily that they are unwilling to try to make a contribution to society, but it can amount to a rather significant commitment that can easily leave one unable to simply pick up their lives where they left off afterward, unless they have acquired enough savings to tide them over while their regular income gets disrupted. Even then, dipping into those funds for such a purpose can amount to a tremendous personal sacrifice... and to be frank, why should a person be *expected* to pay possibly quite significant amounts of money out of their own hard-earned wages in order to do something for somebody else? It's not so much about being selfish, but a lot of people are just trying to do everything they can simply to get by and hopefully try to make their lives better in the future. Jury duty can, for many people, take all such hope away.
                • Re:News? (Score:4, Informative)

                  by SilentStaid (1474575) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:10AM (#41841661)
                  I'm not sure how it is where you work, but on top of getting an admittedly pitiful sum (Usually $40/day for a Federal Trial) for actually serving as a juror I'm fairly certain most places of work will pay you at least a reduced amount, as well.
                • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:15AM (#41841703)

                  People get the government they deserve. If you can’t take time out of your life to ensure that we have a civil and just society, don’t expect society to be civil and just.

                  Oh, and vote next Tuesday.

                  • by mark-t (151149)

                    I might argue that if it was truly a civil and just society, then it would not generally ever be case that citizens would be unable to take time out their lives to help preserve that society on account of the financial distress it would cause.

                    At the very least, I believe that jury duty should compensate a person fairly (with an amount that is at least comparable to their current income levels). If that were the case, I expect you'd find substantially fewer people would be trying to avoid it.

                    • by mark-t (151149)
                      Oh, and it would also have the upshot of ensuring that deliberation was not unduly long, since the government would not want to continue to pay the jury such amounts for longer than it absolutely had to.
                    • Lt’s say you have a self-important person who gets called into jury duty on a big, long trail – say Bill Gates (back in the 90s) or Warren Buffet are called in for a murder trial. Do we:
                      A: Pay them a week’s worth of income or
                      B: Exempt them from jury duty because they are rich?

                      I don’t like either choice.

                      It is not just money that makes a system civil and just – it is the time and energy that average citizens put in. Citizens 100 years ago – who are much poorer than we are

                  • by Nyder (754090)

                    People get the government they deserve. If you can’t take time out of your life to ensure that we have a civil and just society, don’t expect society to be civil and just.

                    Oh, and vote next Tuesday.

                    If i register to vote, then I might get asked to do jury duty, and people are saying they don't want morons in the jury box...

                • by PPH (736903)

                  I'd really like to serve. But only when its not a major hardship for my business. I have only been requested to sit in a jury pool four times in my life. On every occasion, it coincided with my involvement in submitting a bid or proposal for a contract. Putting my paranoia hat on, I suspect that a competitor may have a buddy working at the court clerk's office. And they submitted my name for their pool.

                  On the other hand, when I've had some free time, I called the court and asked if I could volunteer for a

                  • Each time I've been called, I was given the option to reschedule my service to sometime in the next year. Last time I was called I did so and served on the date I'd scheduled (though I wasn't empaneled.) So if you know that bids/proposals are most often due on a Monday, schedule your service for a Wednesday or Thursday.

                • by cayenne8 (626475)
                  And if nothing else...you can provide for jury nullification [wikipedia.org] if you are one one.

                  :)

                  You can't do that if you dodge jury duty....when you're on a jury, you are one of the most powerful people in the US, think of it that way....

              • by garcia (6573)

                In the county in which I reside, if you "get out of jury duty" you still have to sit in the jury pool for three days of active on-site time and seven more days of "on-call" status.

                Your best bet is to stop your fucking whining, do the damn trial for a day or two, and go home. My companies pay for jury duty so aside from it being a pain in the fucking ass being that we only have one car and the courthouse is 30 miles out in the middle of nowhere, it was better than being at work.

                • by cayenne8 (626475)

                  Your best bet is to stop your fucking whining, do the damn trial for a day or two, and go home. My companies pay for jury duty so aside from it being a pain in the fucking ass being that we only have one car and the courthouse is 30 miles out in the middle of nowhere, it was better than being at work.

                  It should be mandatory that all companies pay for entire length of jury duty, and if they did...more people might want to do it.

                  My company pays for 3x days of jury duty a year...that's it, period.

                  After that,

                  • by Belial6 (794905)
                    While I can afford to do jury duty today, the first time I was called, I was fresh out on my own. I had a crappy job, and the fact that I had to go to the courthouse instead of work meant that I couldn't afford to eat. If I had been put on a trial that lasted a couple of weeks, I would not have been able to pay my rent.

                    Jury duty is fine and dandy for those of us with good jobs and flexible schedules. For a lot of people, it is a real financial problem.

                    I am with you. It should be mandatory that all
              • Anyone who approaches jury duty with the "I want out of this" attitude should certainly not be sitting on one.

                I've only been a juror on one trial, but my impression was that the judge was accepting rather lame excuses from people who wanted to get out. Perhaps he felt the same way you do.

                • by plover (150551)

                  If there are enough jurors who don't mind serving, the judge will dismiss those who express the desire to not serve. But if everyone wanted off the case (say it was promising to be a lengthy civil suit that would have kept you all in the courtroom for two months,) he probably wouldn't have let them go so easily.

              • by dkleinsc (563838)

                In my opinion, most people who hate jury trials have never sat on a jury. I have. And I was proud to do so, because it was one of the two very specific duties I have as a citizen (the other being voting). And I was confident in our verdict (guilty of felonious assault, defendant had attacked the victim with a knife).

              • Meh - you live in the country, you've got an inate responsibility. You don't want to sit on juries? Move to North Korea. Kim Jong Un will decide everything for you.
            • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Spent2HrOnAName (1925474) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:18AM (#41841181)
              If the government wanted me to treat it as a civic duty and not something to get out of, they would pay me enough to live on. $40/day (in my state at least) for two weeks or more is something to go out of one's way to avoid if you're living paycheck to paycheck.
              • Yes, this is a good point. Should jurors be paid at minimum wage? At average per capita? At their current rate? What about child care? What about job guarantees so you don't get fired while you're on jury duty?

                "government...they" - you probably meant "government....we"

                • by h4rr4r (612664)

                  What sort of job would fire you?
                  I thought that was illegal. It surely should be.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                    by Anonymous Coward

                    Employers can't fire you, but if you're paid an hourly wage, they don't have to pay you while you're on a jury (according to the juror handbook, they're "encouraged to").

                  • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

                    by compro01 (777531) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:29AM (#41841845)

                    It is. Title 28, section 1875 : "No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States"

                    Bolded is the loophole you can sail the Enterprise through. If you're a contractor or doing a temporary job, your ass is hanging in the breeze.

                • by mark-t (151149)

                  What about job guarantees so you don't get fired while you're on jury duty?

                  I was under the impression that there was.

                  But yeah... the fact that a juror gets paid so little can amount to a huge amount of disruption to their lives, and it's quite understandable that people would want to go out of their way to avoid it.... much as they will go out of their way to avoid doing things that they perceive are likely to cause them other types of pain or suffering (it's not that jury duty itself is necessarily pain

                • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:14AM (#41841699)

                  Minimum wage would be an excellent place to start. It doesn't send a great message when they set minimum wage laws and then can't be bothered to pay even that for one's oh-so sacred civic duty. I'll leave aside for the moment the fact that in many areas, minimum wage isn't enough to live on.
                   
                    And yeah, I'm sticking with "they." Let's not kid ourselves; you and I are not in charge, and discussions about the nature of self-government are academic when you're missing your rent payments.

                • Re:News? (Score:5, Funny)

                  by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:19AM (#41841751)

                  Yes, this is a good point. Should jurors be paid at minimum wage? At average per capita? At their current rate? What about child care? What about job guarantees so you don't get fired while you're on jury duty?

                  "government...they" - you probably meant "government....we"

                  Not getting fired is covered. Here's the relevant text from the Kansas courts: "(c) State law should prohibit employers from discharging, laying off, denying advancement opportunities to, or otherwise penalizing employees who miss work because of jury service." Looks like other states have similar policies.

                  The self-employed are kind of screwed, too, in addition to the people you mentioned, since the law wouldn't protect them from losing business because they had to close up shop.

                  Hardship isn't considered a reason to be excused form jury duty, but being affected by the hardship can be if the worry you're experiencing would make you unable to fulfill your duty to pay attention and be "fair and impartial".

                  Actual example from my one day of jury duty:

                  Brain surgeon asks to be excused. He has patients to operate on.

                  Judge: Having something else to do is not a reason to be excused.

                  Doc (in standard-issue neurosurgeon bow tie): I have patients scheduled tomorrow!

                  Judge: No, that's not a reason to be excused, as long as you can be fair and impartial. Your patients' welfare is not the question here. Can you be fair and impartial?

                  Doc: I would try my best to be. But my patients are scheduled for surgery.

                  Judge: Could your worry about your patients impair your ability to be a fair and impartial juror?

                  Doc: I'd try my best.

                  Judge: But would the anxiety from being in court and not caring for your patients impair your judgement as a juror?

                  Doc (finally catching on): Yes . . . I would be worried about my patients the entire time, and it could affect my ability to devote myself to jury duty.

                  So it doesn't take a brain surgeon to get out of serving, but the judge might need to help a little.

                  • Re: Not getting fired is covered. Here's the relevant text from the Kansas courts: "(c) State law should prohibit employers from discharging, laying off, denying advancement opportunities to, or otherwise penalizing employees who miss work because of jury service."

                    .

                    I notice that the courts phrasing is "should prohibit" rather than "does prohibit" or "prohibits". This could simply be poorly worded, but considering that the court's main business is to parse the specific wording of laws, I would be a little

                • The only time I have been on Jury Duty, I asked them how they could get away with paying us less than minimum wage to be there. After all, "no one is above the law." The only response I got was a shrug.
              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Why?
                Do you think they should pay you to vote too?

                • by mark-t (151149)

                  Ignoring the fact that yeah, I think that might not be a bad idea.... voting is something that only takes a couple of hours out of one day every few years to do. You don't even have to take a full day off of work to do it.

                  Jury duty, on the other hand, can be significantly more disruptive, because it can extend for multiple weeks, throughout which a person will forfeit their normal income, and could result in potentially very high levels of financial stress.

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    I am lucky that I continue to draw pay if I get selected for jury duty. Legislating that seems like the simplest fix. Then allow the company to use it as a deduction come tax time. This means the state does not need to pay anyone, and no new government structures are needed.

                    As far as pay for voting, I think we just need a federal holiday. One that fines any business that stays open, outside of obviously critical things.

                    • by mark-t (151149)
                      A mandatory holiday for voting seems excessive, because voting does not take up so much time as to use up an entire day.
                    • Voting Day should be a federal holiday, and businesses that choose to stay open must provide paid time off for employees working that day to visit their polling places.

                    • I've never actually missed work to vote, and I have voted in every election I could since I turned 18. The rules vary by jurisdiction, but here in Canada, employers need to give you 3 contiguous hours during the time the polls are open in order to vote. The polls open at 8am, and close at 8pm. Just go in to work late (what I usually do, the polls are less busy in the morning), or go in early and leave early.

                      There's also advance polls, and special ballot (mail-in) that you can vote by, if your work schedule

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      That depends entirely on your voting place. In some areas the waits can be many hours.

                    • by mark-t (151149)
                      Even waits of many hours are unlikely to amount to needing to miss a full day of work. Half a day, at most.
                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      Which many people will not be able to get off.
                      You and me it will be no problem, but hourly employees are not going to be able to take it, and surely not all of them.

                    • by cayenne8 (626475)

                      That depends entirely on your voting place. In some areas the waits can be many hours.

                      I believe at least around here..the polls open before 6am.

                      Do what I do...get up early that day...vote and get it over with.

                      Or, if you live in Chicago...vote early and vote often.

                      :)

            • by Nyder (754090)

              Yeah, because if I were on trial, I'd want a bunch of morons on the jury. Only idiots brag about getting out of jury duty. The idea is that you approach it as a civic duty and you hope to hell your jury members do too if you're ever on trial.

              lol, okay, there is 1 thing I do not ever hear about jury duty, that is people do it for civic duty. I hear people bitch because they have to take time off a job that pays considerably more per hour then jury duty. Which generally means they want to get it over with as fast as possible. Swift justice? No, willing to go with the majority, even if they don't feel like it's the truth.

              Or worse, you get old people who are out of touch with modern life and making decisions based on how they think things s

            • by Applekid (993327)

              Lawyers like morons on the jury. They're easier to manipulate. You'll often find that lawyers move to strike potential jurors that might be too smart and might want to bring things up like Jury Nullification, question evidence, or go Henry Fonda in the jurors' room.

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Funny)

            by polebridge (517983) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:04AM (#41841057)

            I guess if you're ever on trial you'll be judged by a jury of your peers.

            • by Cabriel (803429)

              Except he wouldn't be because all of his peers would be trying to get out of jury duty. He'd be tried by responsible and probably more intelligent people. He'd be fucked.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The internet means you should be able to commit anonymous speech acts. That's what some of us feel, anyway.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:22AM (#41840709)

        It's not about his speech act. It has absolutely nothing to do with what he said or where he said it. However, the act of posting may be evidence that he broke other rules/laws unrelated to speech - anonymous or otherwise.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by History's Coming To (1059484) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:38AM (#41840819) Journal
        You can. Set up your own server, hire a few proxies, it's not a huge problem.

        Oh...sorry...you meant we should be able to say what we want on somebody else's website and they should never reveal our details...well that's a little different. Tell you what, let's try an experiment, you set up your server and post the details here, then we'll all come along and post what we want, see where that gets you.
      • by Shavano (2541114)
        Not when they are criminal evidence of a crime.
        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          In this case its only evidence of a crime if the evidence collected turns out to be of a crime. This is known as a fishing expedition and I would dare say that the constitution has language to prevent exactly this sort of thing, but the government no longer follows the constitution so here we are.

          Next up, the government collects all emails sent by anyone in the search for evidence of crimes.
    • by maz2331 (1104901)

      I don't get why anyone would divulge their full address just to comment on a website. I checked out the site, and they do ask for a handle, password, email address, real name, address, and phone number. I'd never fill that stuff out to post a comment on a news story - the danger of data breaches makes me minimize such disclosures.

      • There's a simple way around that - don't say garbage on the internet that you wouldn't want people to know you are saying.
    • I think there's a step zero:

      -Commenter suspected of being juror.

      - Juror suspected of perjury. - Court issues order to place that published posts which have a reasonable chance of providing evidence of said perjury, to provide the bare minimum of information to identify the poster. - If it's not him, end of case. - If it is him, file for mistrial, pursue conviction against him.

      Why is this news?

      I think it's news because it might not be him. If so, they still got the ID of someone who made an anonymous comment. Couldn't you often find something like "he could have been a juror" or similar to unmask anonymous commenters whose actions wouldn't have otherwise been illegal, just inconvenient to the authorities, for example?

  • Seems reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maow (620678) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:08AM (#41840631) Journal

    I don't really have a problem if they're investigating whether a juror made the posting.

    Assuming that, if the poster was not a juror, they will retain their anonymity.

    The "release the name" isn't "print it in the newspaper", it's released to the court, which won't release it further... will it?

    • Re:Seems reasonable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:34AM (#41840793) Journal
      The request is reasonable, but the only reasonable response is: "We're sorry your honour, but we do not require contributors to register under their real name, and we do not record IP addresses of visitors". For sites that respect the privacy of visitors, the best way to ensure that you never have to reveal the identity of your members is to make sure that you don't have that information on file in the first place.

      Of course in Europe, all this info is logged by the ISP's anyway, by law.
  • by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:29AM (#41840763)

    How does anybody read that gibberish and come to the conclusion that the commentor is a juror? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense?

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      There's some context that was not printed.
      • There's some context that was not printed.

        Yes, I couldn't make any sense out of his post either and I assumed there must be some additional context not in the article. Maybe the juror in question always talks in idiotic gibberish?

  • They don't need the name of the person, they need to know that it is NOT ______________. You shouldn't reveal all the cards, but rather reveal that it is not 4 aces.
  • Both defense and prosecution lawyers appear to want a new trial,

    Can someone clued into the legal situation here fill me in on why they can't just get a new trial if both sides wants one?

  • So this guy supposedly accessed a story WHILE the jury was in deliberations? One would think, that were this person on the Jury, one of the other jurors would have witnessed this?

    Nothing about the comment even hints that a juror or someone with knwoledge of the specific case said it. This seems like grasping at straws to me.

  • So is this an issue of a juror posting a comment to the local paper? Or a juror reading the news in that (or other) papers concerning this trial? because if its the latter, there could be numerous jurors who read it but didn't submit a comment.

    If our system depends on jurors keeping themselves ignorant of current events rather than being able to ignore information from outside sources, we're screwed.

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