Juror On Facebook – No Harm No Foul
Courts throughout the country are wrestling with the concern over jurors using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter during trials. A recent case from a Connecticut federal court gives a glimpse at how courts might handle this situation. A defendant convicted of tax evasion, filed a motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct. That misconduct consisted of several Facebook posts from juror x (the court’s opinion doesn’t identify the juror). And they were interesting. The day after Juror X was selected to serve on the jury, but before the start of evidence, he posted the following comment on his Facebook wall: “Jury duty 2morrow. I may get 2 hang someone .. . can’t wait . . .” In addition, Juror X posted these other comments on his Facebook page during the course of the trial: “Jury duty sucks;” “Guinness for lunch break. Jury duty ok today;” “Your honor, i [sic] object! This is way too boring. . . . Somebody get me outta here;” and on the day of the verdict he posted “Guilty :).” In addition, juror x apparently became Facebook friends with juror y, a female, during the course of the trial. The postings were serious enough that the court agreed to allow the parties to interview juror x. But the interview revealed that the postings were simply ill timed jokes, and that juror x maintained an open mind during the proceedings. And there was no evidence that juror x and juror y collaborated in any way. So the defendant did not get a new trial. That’s probably the right result. The juror should have kept his comments off Facebook. But just because he didn’t, that doesn’t mean the defendant should get a pass. And if it’s any consolation to the defendant, juror x admitted during the interview that he closed his Facebook account because the number of his female friends “bugged” his wife. Wonder what she thinks about his new BFF, juror y?