Should jurors refrain from the Internet during service?

Should the court and parties reasonably expect jurors to refrain from using the internet and, more importantly, discussing the case on Facebook?

Members of the jury who convicted Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon of misappropriating gift cards Tuesday became friends on Facebook as much as a week earlier and referenced the case in online messages between days of deliberations.

While it is not yet clear if the five jurors’ outside-of-court communications constitute juror misconduct, Visiting Judge Dennis M. Sweeney had routinely instructed them during the trial not to discuss the case with anyone outside deliberations, specifically prohibiting Internet commentary.

Sweeney said they could tell their families and employers that they were hearing the Dixon case but otherwise encouraged them to keep a low profile.

HT: Juries

It’s an interesting point. Obviously, jurors are told not to discuss the case with anyone during the trial. But is it realistic to believe that they won’t, especially in our current TMZ/tabloid times? And social networking sites make it easier to talk about it with more people.

1 thought on “Should jurors refrain from the Internet during service?

  1. The story you link to involved a judge who barred the jury from commenting about the story on the net. Your headline talks about a complete ban on net access. That is quite a leap. I think that a court would need an individualized reason to impose a blanket restriction on net access. Courts have tossed restrictions barring sex offenders from accessing the net when there isn’t an individualized showing of need. I get my phone over the net, my voicemail messages as email messages, my faxes as PDFs attached to a PDF, I get my Detroit Free Press over the air on my Kindle, and half the TV shows I watch are streamed from the net. I think a no net condition would be constitutionally overbroad in most cases.

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