After writing about enough jurors who get in trouble for posting about their cases online, one begins to feel like Tom Smykowski in Office Space, desperately and hopelessly trying to justify his job to the Bobs. It seems so simple, but no one seems to get it.
You can’t talk about the case on Facebook! Can’t you understand it? What is the hell is wrong with you people?!
This week, we have two more cases of idiot jurors in California and Colorado who simply could not resist going to Facebook to say, ironically, the same thing about the cases they were hearing.
What did they have to say? What kind of titillating trials were they supposed to decide while they were iPhoning instead? And more importantly, how did the attorneys in the cases respond?
The newest case comes to us from Colorado Springs. In the sex abuse trial against a local high school wrestling coach, a juror posted online that the case was (gasp!) boring. From KRDO.com:
Carrier’s attorney, Josh Tolini, said that he found out from another lawyer that the juror had sent out a Facebook message saying she had jury duty, and one of the recipients was that lawyer’s wife. Tolini said the juror stated to his friend’s wife that she was on the Carrier trial, that Tolini was an attorney on the trial and that the case was “boring.”
Wednesday morning, the juror, number 15, was called to the jury box alone and questioned. Judge David Gilbert was friendly with the juror, thanked her for her service and dismissed her from the case. The defense and the judge agreed this was not a major transgression, but still inappropriate.
Gilbert told the woman not to talk about the case on social media or to the press. KRDO Newschannel 13 is withholding the juror’s name.
Gilbert told those in the courtroom to stand as the woman exited the room.
I will repeat this, because it bears repeating: the juror was
told the defense attorney’s wife Facebook friends with the wife of an attorney who knew the defense. A) How small is this town? B) Facepalm.
The case has already gotten a fair amount of local press. It sounds like Judge Gilbert has the patience of a saint. According to the news article, after this whole snafu happened, he “went on to thank jurors for the sacrifice they make every day and said he appreciated it.” Dang, I want to take zen meditation lessons from that guy.
And then, earlier this week, a state appeals court in California ruled on the privacy concerns of a jury foreman who had been ordered to turn over months of Facebook postings he made during a 2010 felony trial in Sacramento. From the Recorder:
Defense attorneys were alerted to the foreman’s posts after the jury reached its verdicts by a juror who said she had befriended Juror No. 1 on Facebook post-trial and saw that he had posted information about case evidence during his jury service. The trial judge, Michael Kenny, ordered an evidentiary hearing where the foreman and three other jurors were questioned by Kenny and defense attorneys.
The foreman admitted to posting that one portion of the trial concerning cell phone records was “BORING.” But he insisted he said nothing more than that, other than to periodically update online friends that he was still on jury duty.
Two things. Months of postings? Jiminy Cricket. Was this from the box? And he was the foreman? This is why I never go to Sacto.
Secondly, seeing as how everyone seems to be complaining about how boring trials are, maybe the judiciary needs to take Elie’s advice on how to spice things up a little bit in the courtroom.
But I’m curious how widespread these problems really are. Please answer our poll:
Have you personally dealt with jurors inappropriately using social media during a trial?
- No. (71%, 135 Votes)
- Yes, and it was a major hassle. (15%, 29 Votes)
- Yes, but it was no big deal. (14%, 26 Votes)
Total Voters: 190
Facebooking Juror Sets Fair Trial Rights Against Privacy Concerns [The Recorder]
Juror Dismissed From Josh Carrier Trial [KRDO.com]