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Google Mistrials: Jurors Mess Up Trials by Researching on Web

I'll admit it. Whenever I encounter something new — a new acquaintance, a new symptom a new word, I want to Google it! I'm sure I'm not the only person who outsources much of my personal "research" to the Internet. But jurors are quickly finding out that it's not so easy to turn off the Google addiction when the law demands it.

Imagine you land yourself in the jury box for a big federal drug trial. You might want to quickly Google some background info on your phone, but wait right there! The judge has told you that any outside research would directly violate court orders and centuries of legal rules. While you might be able to restrain yourselves, an increasing number of jurors can't, and it's resulting in costly mistrials. One defendant is currently using a juror's posts to Twitter during his trial as the basis for his appeal.

Do you think adults can control themselves, or should we make jurors leave their cell phones at the door? Can tested legal rules survive the iPhone?


clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
I didn't say it was right I said unfortunately that's how it is. And it's really easy to sit in our chairs and judge what they do, but it's quite another story when you're walking a mile in someone else's shoes.
stephley stephley 8 years
Then when they're being questioned for jury duty, the potential juror should express that Clara. The notion that jurors will set themselves as judges of the lawyers and judges and double check information during a trial negates the point of the trial and would throw the whole justice system into chaos. It wouldn't be much different if people started looking up laws and arguing with cops at the scene of arrests. We have a system, respect it or work to change it, but don't freelance.
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
Genesis, if that were ALWAYS the case you're right. The big problem is that 99% of Americans have a perception of Lawyers and Judges and it's NOT that they're forthcoming and honest.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
Exactly steph Sometimes the defense and the prosecution agree to conceal facts that are irrelevant to the case because they might influence the jurors decisions. Jurors just need to trust that the lawyers are doing their jobs and telling them everything they need to know.
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
Hypnotic, I would never suggest such a thing! Our legal system is completely flawless and everyone involved with it is perfect!
stephley stephley 8 years
You don't forget that you are a juror during a trial, and instructions to forward questions to the court are pretty clear. If jurors were expected to investigate on their own, why aren't they put in a room filled with computers and lawbooks?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Are you saying that we have non cognitive jurys locking up people across the country clarabelle98? Oh my!
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
hypnotic, that requires cognitive thought!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Seems pretty damn simply to me. If you don't understand something or require more information for a judgment...ASK!
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
Finding an impartial jury is difficult enough today with all of the avenues for gathering information. I COMPLETELY think jurors should have to leave cell phones at the door. Most companies don't allow their employees to bring personal cell phones into the office, and when you're on a Jury that's your job. I see no problem with that.
janneth janneth 8 years
I would bet that jurors text and go online in the courtroom. Some people are addicted to their blackberries. They psychologically can't help it. Maybe they just want to check a score or stock index, and the next thing you know...
lcterp lcterp 8 years
The twittering juror did it out of the courtroom. People should have respect for our legal system even if it has flaws, and undave35 is right, it just costs more time and money in the end.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
People are stupid. They don't think. Confisgate cell phones and any other communication devices. It's not worth contaminating a jury, which ends up costing the tzxpayers more money.
geebers geebers 8 years
Yeah I highly doubt people would be doing this in the room - I mean I do know stupidity knows no limits but I think this would be far more likely during personal time. I know I would forget and go online- but at the same time it is common sense to not google information on the trial you are on. you can't even watch tv or news about it right?? So why would anyone think googling it is ok?
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Are people doing this during the trial or are they looking up background when they get home? Because it sounds like these people are researching on their own time, something that will be significantly harder to regulate.
stephley stephley 8 years
Leave the cell phones outside - if there's an emergency, people know where you are.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that people should learn self control - i mean seriously - i know that it's hard to be out of touch with your cell phone for a few hours, but in instances like this - you're wasting tax payer dollars and you're potentially ruining the outcome of a trial.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I thought you had to leave cell phones out of the court room anyway if you are a juror. I don't know since I've never had jury duty. Knock on wood!
Carrie-Sue Carrie-Sue 8 years
People actually do this? Where is their common sense? Googling is bad, but TWITTERING? Insanity. I would have said no, they shouldn't have to treat adults like children, confiscating their gadgets...but I'm not sure. I they're going to ACT like children...
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