Trial judges in Michigan are now required to order jurors not to use phones or other electronic devices while in trial or in deliberations. Telling your Twitter followers you are stuck at the courthouse is not likely to tip the scales of Lady Justice, but Googling for background info on a case is the legal equivalent of ripping off her blindfold.
Despite admonitions from judges, many jurors can’t seem to keep their hands off their electronic devices, posting updates on their Facebook pages and — far more worrisome — mining the Internet during breaks in a trial. “The accused has a right to confront the accuser, and you can’t cross-examine Wikipedia on the stand,” says Douglas Keene, an Austin, Texas, jury consultant. He points to a recent example of outside-the-jury-box research by one juror that led to a mistrial in a case in Miami. When the judge subsequently interviewed the other jurors, he discovered that in total, nine of the 12 had been Googling after hours.
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