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May jurors blog jury duty?

And now for a pressing question from the audience. I invite interested legal bloggers -- particularly free speech advocates, litigators, public defenders, district attorneys and experts in criminal defense -- to turn their heads, however momentarily, from the fracas surrounding Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court, and address this question:

May jurors blog jury duty?

Meet Blogger Josh Hallett, who poses this question on his blog, hyku. I became aware of Hallett's question when Jay Rosen (who blogs Pressthink) introduced us earlier today via e-mail. Here's how Hallett explains his situation:

"I have jury duty the week of October 17. The question is can I blog it? I did a quick search for "jury duty" and found some people that blogged about it. Most of them appear to be after-the-fact though.

"I asked a friend and his reponse was, The biggest benefit of blogging the jury process is that telling the lawyers what you're doing is likely to get you excused!

"The last time I was selected it was amazing to witness the ineptness of the public defender. Sitting in the jury box I was saying to myself, "Why doesn't he ask. ..." Later during a recess some of the other jurors talked about how watching all the legal shows on TV made them think they were smarter than the PD. (Note to self, don't let a PD handle your case)

"I know I can't talk about a case during the trial (if I am selected), but what about the rest of the process? Any lawyers out there want to answer this one?"

I tried to find an answer to this question. Surfing around the blogosphere, I found lots of jurors who blog, but no definitive answers. It sounds like the question is circumvented by the lack of Wi-Fi love in American courtrooms:

  • In Cory Bergman's post on Lost Remote, he pulls jury duty and learns "Blogging is out." (He has a funny riff on his horror at learning that Seattle's waiting room for potential jurors wasn't Wi-Fi equipped.) Same with Janet of Marqui: "I'm not allowed to talk about the case at all, until it's over. "
  • Happy Scapula blogs an excellent three-part series on jury duty (read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) but only after the fact.
  • Most posts sound more like Arthur Chaparayan, who, blogging from Internet Kiosk #2 at the Los Angeles Superior Court in June, sounds simply happy to be online, off the job and reaching out to his friends.

I invite legal bloggers to answer Josh's question, along with a few more worth considering:

1. May jurors blog jury duty?

2. If no, do you mean before, during or after the trial? Why not? Are there any conflicts between a defendant's right to a fair trial and a blogger's First Amendment rights? Please specifically address any harm that you feel could come to the proceedings by having a juror live-blog a trial.

3. If yes, why and under what circumstances may a blogger blog the trial before, during and after the proceedings? Please specifically address why you feel there are no conflicts between a defendant' right to a fair trial and a blogger's First Amendment rights. Please address any benefit that you feel could come to the proceedings by having a juror live-blog a trial. Also, please consider: Are comments and trackbacks allowed and/or forbidden? If allowed, could a blogger read these comments? May a blogger blog an entire record of events after the fact, including full detail on names? How about audio and/or photographs? What digital record may bloggers take of the proceedings?

I welcome your answers below. Thanks.

Posted by Laurel Newby on October 3, 2005 at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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