As Is So Often The Case, No Means No

Here’s an interesting post about the ongoing tension between jurors who use social media to research and discuss the case they are deciding and judges who insist that they not do that. Just a few points. First, the judges are right. Jurors are supposed to decide cases on the evidence they hear in court, and not on information they find on the outside. Second, this isn’t new. Judges have been admonishing jurors forever not to look at discussions of the case on outside sources. One hundred years ago, that meant don’t read newspaper accounts. A few years later, radio was added to the list. Later still, judges no doubt added TV. So now there’s new technology, and the list needs to grow. I suppose the sheer ubiquity of smart phones, and laptops make jurors a bit more inclined to engage in improper communications, but the principle remains the same. What’s interesting about the post is how harsh the courts have been. One juror in the UK got 8 months for contacting a defendant via Facebook. She apparently sobbed uncontrollably during her sentencing. So much for that British stiff upper lip.