According to Eric Sinrod of Duane Morris Jurors are becoming increasingly difficult to deter from searching for information electronically.
Do we need a net nanny for jurors configured so that they cannot stray electronically during a trial by searching for the latest information on their blackberries? Judges are increasingly concerned about Jurors venturing online to learn more about cases on which they are serving as Jurors. Jurors are conducting Google searches on their blackberries to obtain information about the parties and witnesses to a case, returning results almost instantaneously.
Judges have given general warnings to Jurors to refrain from conducting electronic searches as they interfere with the laws of evidence, however perhaps there is a need for more specific instructions in terms of what activities are prohibited and the sanctions which will attach to Jurors who are detected partaking in this activity.
Moving from the legal remedies, perhaps technological restraints are the next step to consider. Maybe there will come a day when programs are automatically installed on Jurors’ blackberries to re-route all internet traffic through a proxy to filter out certain keywords or traffic for the duration of a trial. Such a service could prove to be more effective and realistic. Perhaps the Judge could manually enter the search terms so that the filter is configured according to the pleadings or using other key terms.
Any jurisdiction which wanted to use the service could pay the fee to use it. Apparently Jurors cannot seem to resist the temptation to go online and seek out more information relating to a case against the instructions of Judges.
Jurors are being increasingly reprimanded by Judges only to consider evidence presented to them at trial and not to consider outside information, but Jurors are finding it difficult to resist the temptation to do so.
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