Juror and jury use of new media: a baseline exploration

Mass media Information technology North America

Over the course of six meetings held between 2008 and 2011, the members of the Executive Session for State Court Leaders in the 21st Century considered leadership challenges presented by a series of both longstanding problems and new trends. The new social media’s turn came in April 2010 with a discussion billed as examining “the opportunities and pitfalls of new media for state court leaders.
”1 The youngest Session member, Garrett Graff, an expert on the new media, agreed to frame the issues for everyone’s benefit. He immediately took the discussion to an unexpected place. The real challenge, he claimed, is that “this is much more than just a set of tools—this is a different way of thinking.
”2 That is not to say that the tools themselves are unproblematic. Graff noted that one consequence of the new media is that “every single person who is now sitting in a courtroom has access to just about every piece of information ever published anywhere in the world. And that is a tremendous challenge to the way we traditionally think of sealing off the courtroom from the outside world for the duration of a trial.
”3 Currently, jury and juror use of the Internet to conduct independent research or to engage in ex parte communications on trial-related topics is universally prohibited as a violation of the juror’s oath and can result in a mistrial or an overturned verdict.

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