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One only has to look at the news to see the effect of social media and the Web on the jury process. We at Jury Scout, in order to better educate you to the dangers of technology within the courtroom, have compiled a comprehensive list of articles that deal with this very important topic.

  • Facebook, Juries and The New Way Jurors Find a Way to Break The Law
    Source: Law Info
    Today, social networking is everywhere. Almost every person has a facebook page (including the reclusive North Korean Dictator, Kim Jong Il), a twitter account, or a myspace page. A quick search on youtube can lead to hours of entertainment, whether it is a piano playing cat, an undiscovered musical talent, or someone teaching you how to do something. However, while many young people have grown accustomed to almost all of their antics being caught on tape or quickly relayed to everyone they know via facebook or twitter, there are still some issues best left off the internet.

  • Unplug and Recharge: Tech-Addicted Jurors Undermine Our Legal System
    Source: The Huffington Post
    Apparently juror boredom is becoming a problem. According to an article in this month's APA Monitor on Psychology, "Every day in U.S. courts, jurors fall asleep, become frustrated by trial delays, seek out Google or Facebook on their cell phones, or daydream when they should be paying attention to trial testimony." Such incidents have resulted in mistrials and overturned convictions (even in one murder case!) when attorneys provided evidence that one or more jurors failed to pay attention during court proceedings. This is not just a U.S. problem: one juror in a murder trial in the U.K. was charged with contempt when she allegedly hid an MP3 player under her headscarf.

  • Judge Removes Juror After 'Guilty' Facebook Post
    Source: Yahoo News
    A judge removed a juror from a trial in suburban Detroit after the young woman wrote on Facebook that the defendant was guilty. The problem? The trial wasn't over. Hadley Jons, of Warren just north of Detroit, could be found in contempt when she returns to the Macomb County circuit court Thursday. Jons, 20, was a juror in a case of resisting arrest. On Aug. 11, a day off from the trial and before the prosecution finished its case, she wrote on Facebook that it was "gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're guilty."

  • Outside Influence of Jurors Growing Problem in Jury Trials
    Source: New Mexico Injury Attorney Blog
    The New Mexico Supreme Court addressed the growing problem of outside influence on jurors. The case addressed a low tech version of the problem but the holding has far broader implications on New Mexico jury trials in the age of Google, Facebook, Twitter. The case of Kilgore v. Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of Subaru) addressed a situation where a juror in a seatbelt malfunction case received input from a source outside the courtroom. The juror's brother in law, a Subaru mechanic, apparently opined with the juror that a break failure in the Subaru was very unlikely. The jury found for the defendant Fuji Heavy Industries.

  • Trials in the Twitter Age: Instant News Coverage
    Source: The Register Citizen
    The Tweeps were out in force. Heads down, fingers furiously tapping laptop keyboards, quick glances at the courtroom, ears cocked for the latest nugget of information. Then, the news was delivered in instant bursts, 140 characters at a time: Dr. William Petit’s father-in-law was crying. Accused killer Steven Hayes was looking around the courtroom. A juror was sending a note to the judge. Welcome to trials in the Twitter age. It’s where Tweeps (people who tweet) are changing how the news industry covers big events like the Hayes murder trial. Or small events, like a school board meeting. And everything in between. Thousands of people followed Twitter (preferably the New Haven Register’s Twitter feed) during the first week of the Hayes triple-murder trial, reading minute-by-minute bulletins sent out by journalists sitting in the courtroom.

  • iPhone Using Juror Causes Manslaughter Conviction to be Overturned
    Source: Internet Cases
    Defendant was accused of killing his new neighbor and was indicted for murder. The jury convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. One of the key concepts in the case, and mentioned specifically in the jury instructions, was whether the defenant acted with “prudence” in his dealings with the victim. During a break from deliberations, the jury foreperson used his iPhone to access Encarta and look up the word "prudence". Adding to this misdeed, the foreperson shared this information with the other jurors. Based on this misconduct, defendant filed a motion seeking a new trial, and the trial court denied that motion. So defendant sought review with the Court of Appeal of Florida. On appeal, the court reversed, holding that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.

  • Arkansas Twitter Mistrial
    Source: Prospect MX
    In Fayetteville, Arkansas, a circuit court juror’s postings to Twitter are the subject of a possible mistrial of a $12.6 million judgment. "Juror Johnathan" (aka Johnathan Powell) is the juror who commented on the trial via his smartphone. He sent 8 messages that said things like: Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It's bad mojo, and they'll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12M lighter. Thanks to Powell’s use of Twitter during the trial, the motion for mistrial alleges that he was able to research the case and communicate with others outside the jury. It would seem that justice was served for the two investors in the company – Mark Deihl and William Nystrom – before Powell’s use of Twitter went public. Russell Wright, the principal owner of Stoam Holdings, didn’t even show up in court to dispute the claims.

  • Employee Misuse of Social Networks is Accelerating
    Source: Security Net
    In another incident that’s received widespread publicity, a juror serving on a criminal trial posted details of the court case to Facebook — even generated a poll to ask friends how they would vote as a juror — and ended up being dismissed from the trial as a result. In another, jurors who posted trial details to Facebook caused a mistrial.
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