We've had a number of stories recently about juries getting in trouble for using forbidden technology while on the jury -- and some of our most heated discussions
have been over whether or not it makes sense to block these tools from jurors. Of course, for now, the tools are very much blocked, but it certainly doesn't seem to stop anyone from using them. The latest such case involves a juror who used his iPhone to access Encarta to look up the definition of the word "prudence,"
since the ruling in the case was dependent on whether or not the jury felt the accused had acted with "prudence." While the lower court refused to grant a new trial, the appeals court reversed, noting that "using the smartphone in this way was analogous to using a dictionary, and that conduct has generally been prohibited in juror deliberations." Separately, I have to agree with Evan Brown (who wrote the story linked above about this) in pointing out:
Ed. note: If the jury foreperson was savvy enough to use an iPhone, why on earth was he consulting Encarta? Hello, 1995 called -- it wants its web pages back.
Honestly, I think the last (and perhaps only) time I ran across Encarta it was still in the heady CD-ROM days, and my first reaction on reading this story was to wonder how one used an iPhone to access a CD-ROM.