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  • Recent attention to the role of the Internet in jury selection by the New York City Bar Association (2012) underlined the importance of conducting Internet searches of prospective jurors during jury selection (i.e., not doing so may be akin to incompetence of counsel). At the same time, a total ban on communicating with jurors must be assured. Even inadvertent signs of an attorney’s visit left behind – electronic footprints – are forbidden as they have been deemed to constitute communication with the juror(s) being searched. The tension...

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  • With regard to testifying in criminal cases, research suggests that defendants are “damned if they do, damned if they don’t.”  When defendants choose not to testify, judges often instruct juries not to conclude anything (e.g., guilt) from their choice not to testify.  Studies have shown, however, that limiting instructions actually have a boomerang effect in which they make more salient a defendant’s lack of testimony (Antonio & Arone, 2005; Jones & Harrison, 2009).  Thus the choice not to testify, despite judicial instructions, influences how jurors perceive defendants.


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  • Judge Shira A. Scheindlin (US v. Viktor Bout, 2011) turned to jurors’ pledges to stop jurors from researching cases online. Her hope was that having jurors sign pledges promising not to research a case online (or elsewhere) would make their oaths more salient and stop jurors from conducting online research. It probably did not hurt that those who signed the pledge faced perjury charges if they did not honor it.

    No one knows whether a written pledge will keep jurors more faithful than an oral one....

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  • In this age of Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messaging, jurors are better “plugged-in” to each other and the world than ever before. But are they really more concerned with each other and the social world around them? New research suggests that, despite our newfound tools for staying connected with others, Americans are actually becoming more self-centered, more narcissistic, less civically engaged, and less interested in effecting change.

    These trends were foretold by Harvard professor Robert Putnam in his 1995 essay, Bowling Alone: America’s...

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