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US Trials Off Track Over Juror Internet Misconduct 405

aesoteric writes "The explosion of blogging, tweeting and other online diversions has reached into US jury boxes, in many cases raising serious questions about juror impartiality and the ability of judges to control their courtrooms. A study by Reuters Legal found that since 1999, at least 90 verdicts have been the subject of challenges because of alleged Internet-related juror misconduct — and that more than half of the cases occurred in the last two years. Courts were fighting back, with some judges now confiscating all phones and computers from jurors when they enter the courtroom."
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US Trials Off Track Over Juror Internet Misconduct

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  • Re:Bonus (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:25PM (#34507554)


    I own several apartment buildings. If something happens, I have to take care of it ASAP.

    That thing rings during a trial you will have plenty of time cooling your heels in jail (without a phone) for contempt of court.

    You do NOT use a phone when on Jury duty.

  • Oh no! (Score:2, Informative)

    by brainboyz ( 114458 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:32PM (#34507608) Homepage

    Heaven forbid a juror look up the definition of a word, or be well-informed about something referenced in the case!

  • by OldeTimeGeek ( 725417 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:38PM (#34507674)
    Unless you're sequestered (very unusual because of the expense), you aren't "imprisoned", all you're asked to do is not talk about the trial nor gather any information about the matters being disputed. Why is this a problem? Is it so impossible to tell people that you can't talk about it?

    Of course you may be found in contempt of court if you don't show up without notification. Trials are expensive and the schedules are always packed. The trial may have to be delayed because you can't be troubled to show up. And you feel that this is wrong?

    I've served on multiple juries, some trials lasting multiples of weeks. In that time all of my friends accepted that I wouldn't talk about the trial, I didn't run home and look up the particulars of the case (can't say that I wouldn't have loved to, I just didn't) and didn't feel imprisoned. I guess something's wrong with me...
  • by increment1 ( 1722312 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:38PM (#34507684)

    You are correct, jurors are forbidden from doing their own investigation. I did not mean to imply that they were allowed to, my point was that there is a strong incentive for them to do so, regardless of the rules.

    When making an important decision, it is natural to desire as much information as possible in order to make the best possible decision. If jurors question what they have heard in the courtroom, or have doubts about particular aspects, then they will have an incentive to research the issue on their own.

    I would be intrigued to learn if any studies had been done about such cases that show whether juries who broke them rules in this fashion arrive at "better" or worse verdicts (where it is possible to determine what a "better" verdict is).

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:44PM (#34507748)

    The bigger problem is that the jury pool ends up being people that are less educated or retired and don't necessarily get shown a lot of respect by the politicians that require them to be there.


    I was just on a jury about a year ago and the average age was somewhere around 30-35, I think there was one person close to 60, maybe two in their 50's, and three of us in our 20's.

    I was actually kind of surprised at how "average joe" everyone was, while still being a pretty diverse group.

    There was only one retiree in the group, and the vast majority was college educated. This same distribution was roughly true of the people prior to jury selection, too (you know, where they gather everyone up before sending off to various court rooms for selection). There weren't a lot of old or apparently uneducated people.

    Your blanket statement simply does not hold up with my personal experience at all, and since you cite no references, I call bullshit.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @07:17PM (#34508168)

    By being part of a jury pool, you are basically imprisoned during the jury time.

    No, you aren't. While I haven't actually been imprisoned, I have been inside a prison and I have served on juries, and they are not even remotely similar.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin