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Submission + - Judge Closes Online Access to Info on Civil Case

Ponca City, We love you writes: "The Tulsa World reports that Judge Linda Morrissey has ordered online access to information about a civil case locked up on the court website for the duration of the trial out of concern that jurors might access the information be prejudiced. The first trial, which focused on a death amid allegations of negligent medical care, wound up in a mistrial because jurors did not reach a verdict, although they deliberated about 14 hours over two days. Lawyers involved in the second trial agreed to the order because they were concerned that jurors could be influenced by getting information, from a record of events in a case filed in February 2007, that could be inadmissible as trial evidence. Morrissey says litigants have a right to a fair trial before an impartial jury, and she routinely gives strong admonitions to jurors that they not search the Internet for information about a case being tried adding that a juror who would not intentionally violate a judge's instructions could still be exposed indirectly to internet information during a trial by contact with curious family members or friends. But not everyone agrees with the judge's decision. The lawyers involved in the trial "don't represent the public's interest in those records," says Joey Senat, an associate professor of journalism at Oklahoma State University who writes for FOI Oklahoma, adding that what might be convenient to trial participants does not outweigh "the public's right or need to know.""
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Judge Closes Online Access to Info on Civil Case

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