Sunday, December 19, 2010

Facebook, Twitter and smart phones cause mistrials, appeals and overturned verdicts

One tweet every three minutes from people saying they are on jury duty.

As jurors go online, U.S. trials go off trackReuters

Reuters Legal, using data from the Westlaw online research service, a Thomson Reuters business, compiled a tally of reported decisions in which judges granted a new trial, denied a request for a new trial, or overturned a verdict, in whole or in part, because of juror actions related to the Internet.

The data show that since 1999, at least 90 verdicts have been the subject of challenges because of alleged Internet-related juror misconduct. More than half of the cases occurred in the last two years.

Judges granted new trials or overturned verdicts in 28 criminal and civil cases — 21 since January 2009. In three-quarters of the cases in which judges declined to declare mistrials, they nevertheless found Internet-related misconduct on the part of jurors. These figures do not include the many incidents that escape judicial notice.