Put down the smartphone on jury duty
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:54 PM
A committee of federal judges has updated the standard instructions federal judges give jurors to include more warnings to keep them from using social media to research or communicate about cases on which they serve. The new guidelines provide detailed explanations of the consequences of social media use during a trial, along with recommendations to provide repeated reminders of the ban on social media usage.
The update is prompted by the results of a national survey of federal trial judges by the Federal Judicial Center.
"The overwhelming majority of judges take steps to warn jurors not to use social media during trial, but the judges surveyed said additional steps should be taken," said Judge Julie A. Robinson, committee chair.
"The judges recommended that jurors frequently be reminded about the prohibition on social media before the trial, at the close of a case, at the end of each day before jurors return home, and other times, as appropriate. Jurors should be told why refraining from use of social media promotes a fair trial. Finally, jurors should know the consequences of violations during trial, such as mistrial and wasted time. Those recommendations are now part of the guidelines."