According to the Union Tribune, a case going before a California jury will be the first to enforce a rule preventing jurors from using Google (or the web in general) to conduct research on the case, or from updating their social networking status.
…jurors will have to sign declarations attesting that they will not use “personal electronic and media devices” to research or communicate about any aspect of the case. That includes computers, cell phones and laptops. Jurors will have to sign the declarations, made under penalty of perjury, both before and after they serve.
I won’t go into the full details of the trial, but an attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit is concerned jurors will use their iPhones and Blackberrys to try and determine if the organizers of a radio contest should have known that their antics were dangerous. He also wants to prevent jurors from learning details of the case, not admissible in the courtroom.
In court papers, Levine argued that jurors “conducting independent research on Internet sites whether through computers or through cellular phones with Internet capabilities has become a judicially recognized occurrence and has been found to constitute juror misconduct” in several cases across the nation.
According to legal experts, the requirement is unlikely to stop jurors from whipping out their iPhone and even if caught, it’s unlikely the juror will receive anything worse than a fine–but more likely a stern talking to from the judge.
What do you think about this new rule? Should we restrict access to information or are we trying to prevent the inevitable integration of technology in the courtroom?