Juror use of new media causes serious complications for judges presiding over jury trials. Media stories regularly describe disrupted trials or cases in which the verdict was overturned because one or more jurors conducted independent research on the case or communicated with friends or family using social media. Hundreds of written court opinions been filed in response to appeals alleging Internet-related juror misconduct. Although courts have developed some tools in recent years to discourage inappropriate juror use of Internet technologies, not all judges are aware of these tools or use them on a consistent basis. And none of the current approaches can guarantee 100% effectiveness. Consequently, judges can anticipate spending more courtroom time deciding motions for mistrials and new trials.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
In this course you’ll learn many new skills including how to:
- Identify inappropriate internet use for jurors
- Identify best practices to prevent internet-related misconduct
- Implement strategies to address internet-related misconduct
- and much much more!
This course is for informational purposes only and does not issue a certificate of completion.
To help judges meet these new challenges, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) developed and pilot-tested curriculum materials for a judicial education program on Preventing and Addressing Internet-Related Juror Misconduct. The curriculum materials consist of three distinct modules, with a combined completion time of 1 hour. Module 1 is intended to familiarize trial and appellate court judges with the ubiquity of Internet technologies in contemporary society and jurors’ expectations about their access to and use of these technologies during jury service. Module 2 describes techniques that trial judges can employ to discourage inappropriate use of these technologies during trial. Module 3 is designed to summarize applicable state law concerning juror misconduct and to provide a checklist of factual issues that trial judges should follow to assess the risk of prejudice resulting from juror misconduct. Module 3 also includes a series of hypothetical cases involving juror misconduct for judges to consider how they might respond to allegations of juror misconduct.