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Courts Clamp Down On Jurors' Web Use

We've written here about the challenges judges and lawyers face from jurors' tweets and jurors' blogs. Separate stories in the news out of California illustrate how courts are dealing with these challenges.

In Sacramento, the court presiding over a wrongful death lawsuit is taking the unusual step of requiring jurors to sign a declaration attesting that they will not use "personal electronic and media devices" to research or communicate about any aspect of the case. Jurors will have to sign the declaration both before and after they serve. It is said to be the first time a California court has taken such a step, reports SignOnSanDiego.com.

Earlier this month in San Francisco, the Superior Court issued a proposed rule that would require potential jurors be given a reminder not to blog, tweet or conduct Internet research about cases. As reported in The Recorder, the proposed rule was prompted by a jury-selection episode in June, when an entire panel of 600 jurors had to be excused after it was discovered that several had conducted their own online research into the case.

At the FindLaw legal technology blog Technologist, Duane Morris partner Eric Sinrod says it makes sense for courts to tighten up on jurors. "It is reasonable to expect that the natural curiosity of some jurors and the ease and habit of Internet research might cause them to let their fingers do their walking into finding out about their cases outside of the courtroom," he says. "This undermines the judicial process, as jurors only are suppose to be presented the facts as deemed appropriate by the judge."

Now if they could only come up with a way to keep the judges off Twitter.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 17, 2009 at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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