« Ind. Courts - The Kimberly Brown Judicial Ethics Saga: Some Thoughts on Assessing Remorse and the Re-Election Process | Main | Environment - "Producers should remember manure application rules" »

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Courts - "England and Wales Crack Down on Googling Jurors; U.S. Not So Much "

A few quotes from Joe Palazzolo's report Friday in the $$ WSJ Law Blog:

The Internet has made it downright easy for jurors to research the cases to which they are assigned, a breach of the rules that could lead to a phenomenon known as the “Google mistrial.”

In the U.S., examples of jurors snooping outside of court are legion. The punishment for such transgressions is typically minor — a small fine or, in the rare case, a few nights in the clink.

No so across the pond. * * *

[E]arlier this week, a government commission on legal reform in England and Wales recommended the creation of a new criminal offense targeting jurors who conduct independent research. It would be punishable by as many as two years in prison or a fine with no upper limit, or both.

Although California "passed a law in 2011 that made juror communication or research about a pending trial grounds for criminal contempt, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison," it is now being recommended that the criminal provisions be rolled back, the story continues.
Why? Because often the only person who can help the judge determine whether juror misconduct occurred is the juror herself. But if she faces the threat of criminal prosecution, she may assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, thwarting the judge’s investigation and waylaying the trial.

The committees say civil contempt proceedings, which can only be initiated by the courts, are the proper venue for jurors who are accused of communicating or conducting research about a pending trial, because they offer judges more flexibility.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 15, 2013 02:42 PM
Posted to Courts in general