Strutin correctly makes the point that if one of the virtues of the jury system is that the jury itself is comprised of our peers, it is logical to assume that members of the jury will ordinarily do internet research using Google or Bing and may maintain a blog, a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It is also logical to assume that these jurors might be inclined to use these resources before, during, and after the trial. Strutin's article provides specific instances in which these activities came to light and how the courts dealt with this kind of activity.
The online misconduct of jurors seems to be categorized to four general areas -
- Publishing or distributing information about a trial, e.g., tweeting or posting updates on a social media site.
- Uncovering information about the case by searching the Internet, entering social networking sites or visiting virtual crime scenes.
- Contacting parties, witnesses, lawyers or judges via social networking for example.
- Discussing or deliberating the merits of the litigation prematurely or inviting outside opinions.
Links to news reports, cases, and legal articles make this a good place to start research on the issue of juror conduct in a digital age.
Readers of this blog may recall a recent post that discussed the issue of how evolving technology can affect the role of jury, counsel, and court when faced with certain kinds of evidence. It seems increasingly clear that social media and the Internet will necessarily affect the way in which jurors are to be instructed about their duties.