Welcome to the 21st Century!
This AP, 3/17/09 article discusses a number of instances where jurors have potentially disrupted trials by disclosing case info or updates on deliberations on facebook and/or twitter:
Eric Wuest's post late Friday to Facebook friends teased: "Stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday everyone!" . . . .
On Monday, a nervous Wuest found himself in the judge's chambers, defending his veiled posts about the corruption trial of former state Sen. Vincent Fumo in Philadelphia. But he is not alone in posting his courtroom musings online, according to one lawyer who studies Twitter.
"Dozens of people a day are sending tweets or Facebook updates from courthouses all over America," said Anne W. Reed, a Milwaukee trial lawyer and jury consultant who writes a blog that follows juries and social networking sites.
While most posts are innocuous, Reed said, a few cases have raised eyebrows — and questions about whether judges need to clarify jury instructions about online communications.
In Arkansas last week, a building materials company and its owner appealed a $12.6 million verdict against them, alleging that during the trial a juror posted Twitter messages that showed bias. Juror Johnathan Powell, of Fayetteville, told The Associated Press that the complainants were "grasping at straws" to try to undo the award.
And this New York Times, 3/17/09 article talks how rampant jurors' case research on their cell phones caused a judge to declare a mistrial in a federal drug trial in Florida:
Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.
Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, wasting eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.