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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Courts - "Tweeting, Texting, Googling Banned for Mich. Jurors"

Tresa Baldas of The National Law Journal has this long story today. A quote:

The Michigan Supreme Court has laid the hammer down on gadget-happy jurors in banning all electronic communications by jurors during trial, including tweets on Twitter, text messages and Google searches.

The ruling, which takes effect Sept. 1, will require Michigan judges for the first time to instruct jurors not to use any hand-held device, such as iPhones or BlackBerrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations.

The state's high court issued the new rule on Tuesday in response to prosecutors' complaints that jurors were getting distracted by their cell phones, smartphones and PDAs, in some cases texting during trial or digging up their own information about a case and potentially tainting the judicial process. * * *

According to the National Center for State Courts, a number of states have grappled with the problem of allowing jurors to bring cell phones to the courtroom. A recent questionnaire sent to court administrators across the country showed that many courts are addressing the problem of potential juror misconduct through hand-held devices.

For example, courts in Ramsey County, Minn., recently issued a new cell phone policy that prohibits jurors from brining any wireless communication device to court after two mistrials were declared when jurors used cell phones during deliberation against the court's order.

New Jersey, however, allows jurors to bring cell phones to court, but they must be turned off during trial. Cumberland County, Penn., has a similar phone policy. In Malheur County, Ore., jurors are not allowed to bring cell phones to court at all.

The ILB has had many earlier entries on jorors' tweeting, courts banning cellphones in the courthouse or courtroom, etc. See a list here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 2, 2009 09:51 AM
Posted to Courts in general