Anyone who has watched a legal drama — and Lord knows, it's hard not to, since coutrooms and hospitals seem to be the only workplaces there are in The World According to TV — knows that jurors are admonished not to discuss the case to which they are assigned with family, friends or media, and that they are sometimes sequestered for lengths of time, unable to even watch TV for fear it will compromise their verdict.
Apparently, though, some jurors are unaware that the online world is a form of communication, Wired magazine reports
. A Florida drug case ended in a mistrial when jurors admitted they's done research about it online, poisoning the jury. In another case, defence lawyers asked for a mistrial after it was discovered a juror was posting updates to the case on Twitter and Facebook.
How someone who has any command of the online world can claim they didn't realize they were violating jury rules is beyond our ken, but nonetheless, the Judicial Conference of the United States was forced to issue model jury instructions for judges in January: “You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cellphone, through e-mail, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, through any internet chat room, or by way of any other social networking websites, including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube.”
Because some jurors' phones are smarter than they are.