Skip to content
Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Should juror’s be permitted to blog?

Judges need to get up to speed on blogging. Not asking jurors if they have blogs, whether any jurors intend to blog during the trial, or have accounts at social media sites such as MySpace or FaceBook is going to jeopardize a party’s right to a fair trial.

Look at the most recent case of a juror blogging about the trial. A conviction and lengthy sentence was overturned.

Do you guys see anyway jurors should be permitted to blog about anything related to the trial? I don’t. Share your comments. Blog the issue over at your blog.

Sure jurors can go home and blog about sports, work, or anything else not related to the trial. But jurors must be admonished by the judge not to blog about trial issues.

Judges have standard instructions for jurors. Jurors are not allowed to discuss the facts of a case with anyone until deliberations begin. That includes not talking with fellow jurors as well as friends, co-employees, and relatives in and out of the courthouse. Juror’s are also not allowed to look up information relating to the issues of a case.

Many judges allow jurors to make notes on yellow pads the court hands out to each juror. But the bailiff collects those notepads at lunch breaks and at night. Juror’s may then use their notes during deliberations.

Allowing jurors to blog is fraught with peril. At best, blogging is akin to allowing jurors to make notes outside the courtroom. At worst, such blogging will result in a juror’s discussing the facts of the case via comments made on the juror’s blog or reading, via the juror’s RSS newsreader, what others are blogging about the trial.

Blogging at its essence is conversation and networking. What blog by a sitting juror wouldn’t draw readers and possible comments? Imagine who those readers would be – parties in the case, lawyers in the case, and the media. Lawyers, parties, consultants, and the media may also to choose to blog so as to possibly influence jurors who will see their blog posts via the juror’s RSS newsreader.

How could we allow parties to follow a juror’s thinking during the course of a trial? Why not poll a juror or two to see if they’re buying the case we’re presenting. How can we risk parties and lawyers influencing jurors outside the courtroom via comments on a juror’s blog or blogging themselves with the expectation the blogging juror will see their blog posts?

A newspaper reporter would not be permitted to report on the trial if the reporter were sitting as a juror. A juror blogging about the trial poses even greater risks to a party’s right to a fair trial.

Seems like a lay up that jurors should be asked during jury selection if they have a blog and be admonished not to blog about the trial until the trial is over.

Technorati Tags:

Posted in: