5.4.2010

Courts’ Increasing Concern with Jurors’ Social Networking Capabilities.


When serving as a juror, most individuals are in a place and system they know little about, except through such sources as the press, television, movies and more recently the digital media. Cell phones now provide jurors with the ability to communicate about the trial with the outside world. Law firms in Reno have come to realize that juror misconduct in this regard is becoming an increasingly serious issue with the administration of justice. Jurors have the capability to instantaneously tweet, blog, text, e-mail, phone and look up facts and information during breaks, at home or even in the jury room if they are allowed to keep their digital access to the world while serving as a juror. And despite the prohibition of cameras in the courtroom, most cell phones are equipped with camera and video capabilities.

Judges throughout Nevada take different approaches in addressing this potential form of jury misconduct. Some do not allow jurors to have their cell phones. Others give jury instructions on a daily basis.

As trial lawyers at one of the most recognized firms in Reno, we advocate a compromise that allows jurors to alleviate anxiety, while still protecting sanctity of the jury trial process. First, the matter must be addressed in jury selection by the trial court. Second, an instruction should be given to the jury each day that includes follow-up reminders from the judge that any outside contact through electronic means concerning the trial, the lawyers, the witnesses, or any facet of the trial is prohibited and can cause a mistrial. It has been our experience that jurors are respectful of the need to prevent a mistrial and are mindful of the consequences if repeatedly reminded that contact with the outside world concerning trial issues is strictly prohibited.

Our Reno lawyers have extensive knowledge in commercial and personal injury litigation, and estate and corporate law. For more information or to contact one of our Reno litigation lawyers, call our Reno law firm at 775.329.3151.

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