Social Media Use Interferes with Court Cases

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 6:48pm

Facebook and Twitter are taking a toll on the justice system.

Jurys were originally designed to be a fortress of justice where only the information revealed in court was to be considered.

Jurors have always been told to avoid three things: investigating the case on their own, by visiting a crime scene, reading media reports about the case, and by talking about the case with anyone outside of jury deliberations.

But the game has changed as jurors increasingly turn to social media to talk about cases. For instance, in one recent case, a juror posted "Jury duty 2morrow. I may get 2 hang someone? Can't wait."

"We have to say its not just don't talk about it with your friends and families, it's don't talk about it on Myspace, don't talk about it on Facebook, don't talk about it on Youtube, don't talk about it on Twitter," said Hon. Robert Devlin, Chief Administrative Judge.

If a juror is found to have violated the law, judges have to find out what was said or read, whether it affected the juror's judgment, and whether other jurors were influenced.

A simple Facebook post could mean a mistrial, and possible retrial, costly to the litigants, the court system and the taxpayers.

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