Nearly everyone, it seems, has a smart phone. Access to information no longer comes from the morning or evening newspaper. Information is refreshed by the minute through numerous on-line news sources. What impact does that have on a jury trial?
The December, 2011, ABA newsletter, First Focus, has published an interesting article highlighting the ABA Judicial Division’s National Conference of State Trial Judges work to issue guidance to Judges and lawyers on how to deal with this accessibility of information. The result is a list of recommendations aimed at taking reasonable steps to ensure that jurors commit to refrain from doing outside research about a case.
While the recommendations may eliminate juror use of electronic media in most cases it is unlikely to eliminate all such use. One thing that businesses and individuals should consider when involved in litigation is what information they are putting out about the pending litigation. It may seem intuitive but business or personal websites and social networking sites should not necessarily be where opinions or frustrations are expressed. That is not to say that a gag order be implemented in all situations. Rather, make sure to provide well thought out control of information that may relate to litigation or litigation themes.