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Juror blogs raise fair trial issues

As a former trial lawyer, I’m sure the thoughts expressed and items talked about by jurors on blogs are no different than the thoughts and discussions jurors have always had. But with blogs, trial judges and appellate courts have something they did not have before – a record to review whether blogging effected ones right to a fair trial.

And as Bob Ambrogi posts today, juror blogs cause problems.

Many bloggers, … [an upcoming National Law Journal Journal] article suggests, decide for themselves not to blog about their jury duty, even absent instructions from the judge. But others, thanks to courthouse Internet access, blog live from the jury room. Clay S. Conrad, a Texas lawyer who writes the blog Jury Geek, told NLJ reporter Vesna Jaksic that blogging by jurors raises interesting questions. A juror is not supposed to discuss the case, he notes, but is blogging a discussion? Whether it is or not, he says, it could later produce evidence that a juror has prejudged the case.

As Bob warns, lawyers better start asking in voire dire whether jurors are blogging the case. Good luck in federal courts where judges, with only suggestions from the lawyers, do all the voire dire. Got to guess most federal judges don’t know about or understand the implications of blogs.

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