When Twitter launched with their now famous prompt “What are you doing now?” I don’t think they envisioned people serving on juries letting the world in on what was happening in the trials they were a part of.
It turns out that yes people are in fact sending out Twitter messages from their front row seats at trials and along with an increasing number of mistrials being called because of jurors texting and tweeting judges are getting a little pissed off.
No one seems to have a tally of mistrials caused by such behavior, but anecdotes keep coming.
Also in March, a Florida judge declared a mistrial after discovering that nine of the 12 jurors had been secretly researching the case on the Internet — in direct violation of the judge’s instructions.
In the space of a couple weeks, those three cases thrust into the national spotlight the ramifications on trials of Twitter and social networking brethren such as Facebook and My Space.
Contrary to centuries of legal protocol, some jurors seem to be sharing information about the cases they are trying as casually as the minutiae of their daily lives. And armed with unprecedented access to encyclopedic information, they can search the Web for details about plaintiffs and defendants during lunch hour or even bathroom breaks.
Such incidents have frustrated attorneys, infuriated judges, and left the legal community scratching its collective head over how best to deal with this new technological threat.
Source: Portland Business Journal – Jurors’ tweets, texts upset trial judges