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    Amidst growing concern about jurors doing online research about cases on which they serve, judges and judicial groups have sought new ways to deter this behavior.  They have expanded jury instructions on the issue, elicited signed pledges from jurors, and threatened or even imposed sanctions for violators.

    Two recent efforts are noteworthy, one fairly traditional and the other quite creative.  On the traditional side, a Judicial Conference Committee updated the 

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  • crisis

    I had the privilege of speaking this weekend at the Pound Civil Justice Institute’s Forum for State Appellate Court Judges.  Though I was speaking on social media and the courts, the broader theme of the conference was the funding crisis for state courts.  It was sobering to hear about courthouses that are cutting hours or even days out of their operating schedules due to budget problems, and judges who must choose between having a bailiff in their courtrooms and having a law...

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  • As the practice of researching jurors becomes more common, law and policy are evolving to set the parameters for such searches.

    There has been much attention in recent years to jurors’ use of the Internet to provide or obtain information about cases for which they have been selected.  We have all seen reports of mistrials because a juror posted about a case on Facebook, searched an unfamiliar term and shared with fellow jurors a definition not sanctioned by the Court, or learned information about a party that had been ruled  inadmissible.

    We have heard much less, though, about the flip side of the coin: attorneys’ use...

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  • We are reminded that technology notwithstanding, humans are still fundamentally social beings.

    We often hear social scientists – professional and amateur – suggest that today’s society of computer-addicted, gaming, texting, plugged-in citizens is more isolated and less social than our less technological and presumably more conversational predecessors.  We hear about the lost art of conversation, and bemoan new skills deficits in interpersonal communication. Some of us have even worried about how this new inward focus might affect jury dynamics, where verbal communication is at the heart of effective deliberations.  I have been reassured, though, time and time again, as...

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