Social Media And Jurors – One More Time

If you read our June 8, 2010 InfoLaw Newsletter (and who hasn’t?) you will have seen an article recently about jurors blogging during a trial. Blogger Eric Goldman has this post on his “Technology & Marketing Law Blog” about a case in West Virginia, where a criminal defendant got a new trial based on juror misconduct? And what was that misconduct exactly? The juror failed to disclose that she knew the defendant. It turns out, though, that prior to the trial, she’d sent the defendant advice on his marital problems. When asked during jury selection whether she knew the defendant, the juror answered “no.” The court wasn’t buying the juror’s contention that she the MySpace contact didn’t mean she “knew” him. During the trial, she also posted a message on her MySpace page which noted she’d “just got home from court” and had to head “back to court in the morning.” The court found that this communication would not, in itself, constitute misconduct, since the post was so innocuous. But not disclosing the contact with the defendant was sufficient to justify the new trial. In this case, the juror’s direct contact with the defendant probably put the decision over the top. It would be interesting to see how far this goes. Would the fact that the defendant is a Facebook friend be enough to disqualify a juror? In any event, if you’re picking a jury, you might want to ask more specifically about social media connections. Just asking if “you know” the defendant may not be specific enough these days. You know?