We recently wrote about a trial where there were concerns that a jury member was sending Twitter messages
during the trial, but that's nothing compared to text messaging while on the witness stand
. Yes, apparently a guy who was being questioned as a witness, used a break in the action (as the judge spoke to the lawyers in the case) to text message with his boss, who was also in the court room and at the plaintiff table. After being alerted to this by a "courtroom spectator," the judge declared a mistrial:
"Let me be really frank about this," the judge said. "I never had this happen before. This is completely outrageous, absolutely outrageous."
Toledano responded, "It was on a break."
Silverman shot back: "It doesn't matter. You are communicating about the case and the subject matter of the case with a witness who is currently under oath and before the jury,"
Toledano said, "I'm sorry, after we took the break, it's not in the middle."
The judge explained himself again.
"It's a problem on your communicating with the witness about his testimony whether it's before the break, after the break and during the break while he's testifying," he said. "This is outrageous."
These stories of technology in the courtroom seem to be coming up more and more frequently. It seems as though very few people have really thought through the implications of the many channels of communication that every individual now has with them, and how that changes common assumptions about how people can and will communicate, even in "constrained" areas.