Judge Denies Appeal Based On Juror's Twitter Messages

from the @arklawyer-nice-try,-but-no dept

The legal world is catching on to social media in a pretty big way. Status updates and other messages are commonly cited as evidence, while there's growing concern over jurors' use of Twitter and other services on their mobile phones during trials. In one case, lawyers in Arkansas argued that a juror's tweets showed he was predisposed against their client, and wanted a verdict that would "impress his audience." They appealed the decision against their client based on the juror's 140-character missives, and a judge has now rejected the appeal and let the judgment stand. He said the juror's tweets were in bad taste, but didn't constitute improper conduct. While it doesn't seem like the messages in question reflected any predisposition on the part of the juror, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg of these types of cases, particularly with the definitively unanswered question of whether posting messages to social-networking sites during deliberations breaks jury rules regarding non-disclosure.


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  1.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Sigh

    You know, I run Trivia Nights at a couple of bars here in Chicago, and during the game we have one of those baskets they put fries in on each table, and everyone has to put their cell phones in them. It works beautifully. Is there really no equivalent here?

     

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  2.  
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    CrushU, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Intriguing

    I was actually called up for Jury Duty and got to listen to a tape explaining that you can't talk to ANYONE about the case.

    I would assume that includes Twitter messages.

    For the most part, it's to prevent jurors becoming biased because of something they read. (Another stipulation was: "Do not do your own research. You are the consider the evidence presented.")

    I would think *reading* Twitter might be more dangerous, in the realm of 'removing impartiality'... But only if someone initially posts a Tweet about the case. In this instance, it sounds like the juror didn't say anything about the case specifically, merely that the lawyer(s) are saying he looked predisposed based on his Tweets. As opposed to the extensive questioning (hopefully) asked when the jury was selected to weed out impartial jurors.

     

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  3.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Intriguing

    Hey gringo, I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as an "impartial juror."

     

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  4.  
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    el sabio, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    It wasn't during the trial

    The tweets were sent AFTER the trial, not during. Saying "I just gave away someone else's money" might be in bad taste after the trial, but doesn't mean the juror was biases beforehand.

     

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  5.  
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    Noc, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Intriguing

    im an extremely impartial person, i never make any decisions without proof, of course ive never been a juror, and have no complaints about that.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Willton, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Sigh

    You know, I run Trivia Nights at a couple of bars here in Chicago, and during the game we have one of those baskets they put fries in on each table, and everyone has to put their cell phones in them. It works beautifully. Is there really no equivalent here?

    Not unless you want to cut off the jurors from society for the length of a trial.

    Instances like these sometimes make me wish we had professional juries.

     

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  7.  
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    Allen (profile), Apr 7th, 2009 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re: Sigh

    What a horrible idea. Why bother with a Jury at all?

     

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  8.  
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    Frosty840, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 11:45pm

    I was on jury duty in the UK and as far as I remember, all we got told was the rules governing the routine of the court, rather than anything governing anything we had to do/not do outside of the court (especially in reference to doing our own research or discussing the case).
    Is anyone commenting more familiar with UK jury-preparation procedures than my vague memory and willing to fill in the differences between UK and US rules?

     

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  9.  
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    brothertuck, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 1:44am

    Twitter in court

    Sending out tweets will not change the outcome of the decision. Receiving tweets or personal text messages may.
    If a court case is extremely sensitive and if the lawyers wish, the jury may be sequestered. If that happens, they usually are not allowed any contact with the outside world, which may include tv, newspapers, magazines, and even cell phones.
    As long as the messages do not show any impropriety then their is nothing wrong with them.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Intriguing

    You may think you are impartial, and you may well be, but after you serve on a trial and an attorney files an appeal based on your impartiality you may find that in the eyes of the law that you are just as biased as everyone else.

     

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  11.  
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    CrushU, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Intriguing

    Sure there's no such thing as impartial. The goal of jury selection is to get both sides to agree to the biases present in the jury.

    Appeals based on jury impartiality are... amusing to me. The attorneys have plenty of time to reject jurors for obvious reasons, and sometimes for no reason. There are only two situations that you get a heavily biased juror: The attorney didn't ask the right questions, or the juror lied when answering the questions, which is a different argument entirely.

     

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