Wed, Mar 18th 2009 1:15am
Lawyers for an Arkansas building materials firm have appealed a $12.6 million judgment against the company, alleging that a juror's Twitter messages show that he was biased against the company. The lawyers say tweets like "I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money" and "oh and nobody buy Stoam. Its bad mojo and they'll probably cease to Exist, now that their wallet is 12m lighter" illustrate that the juror was predisposed towards a verdict that would "impress his audience". Meanwhile, in a corruption case in Philadelphia, a defandant's attorneys allege a juror's tweets and status updates broke rules about disclosing deliberations, and say they could warrant a mistrial. Lawyers, along with everybody else, are paying more and more attention to social-media updates, so it's likely we've not heard the last of the silly Twitter-based legal maneuver. But it's not just the information-spreading that's got lawyers and judges worried, it's also juries looking up info on their phones during trials. In a recent federal drug trial in Florida, a judge declared a mistrial after learning that 8 jurors had accessed online information on their mobile phones during a trial. A cornerstone of the US' adversarial legal system is that juries can only consider the evidence that's presented to them, and jurors looking info up on their own breaks the longstanding rules of evidence of the system. It's not as if the legal system is under threat from technology, but certainly expect to see plenty more stories along these lines in the near future.
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