I spoke at a session on social media and litigation today for the Washington County Bar Association. My co-speakers were Judge Jeannine Turgeon and Todd Shill. Judge Turgeon addressed trial issues, including jurors and social media. The Judge made it abundantly clear that improper Web use is a problem when it comes to social media.
It is absolutely crucial that jurors are made to understand the serious consequences of using social media or the Web in a way that violates their obligations as jurors.
The wise judge, the smart attorney make 100% clear to jurors and provide instructions that use of social media, improper research, etc are impermissible.
Mistrials are occurring and jurors are getting in serious trouble.
So please, during your voir dire, prior to seating any juror, and when the judge provides the instructions, make certain jurors understand what they may and may not do online. Otherwise all the hard work the lawyers, judge and others put into a case can be all for naught, and an incredible amount of time and money can be wasted, and the juror(s) can end up being fined or even, perhaps, find themselves in prison.
For relevant articles see California Governor Sends Message to Jurors: No Tweeting; Facebook Chat Spells Trouble for Juror and Defendant; Social Media Misbehavior by Jurors Afflicts Trial Process.
Here is a sample regarding Rules Governing Juror Conduct During Trial from the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. I don’t want to violate copyright by providing the entire instruction. So if you want to purchase the entire PBI book you may do so here. You will find detailed information on proper juror instructions. A new edition was just released.
Also see this article, The Wired Juror.