Active Internet users in the United States spend 23 percent of the time they are online on social networking sites and blogs. Facebook, the most popular social networking site in the United States, currently boasts more one billion users. Twitter, another social networking site that has recently seen a surge in users, surpassed 500 million registered users by 2012. Further, 88 percent of American adults own cell phones, 46 percent of which are smart phones, capable of accessing the Internet and social media sites anytime, anywhere. Easy access to the Internet and social media websites does not end with receipt of a jury summons. Although juror misconduct has always been a concern within the judicial system, the prevalence of technology available to jurors has increased the ease with which jurors can improperly communicate with each other and with other trial participants, publish information regarding the trial, and conduct outside research on the case.
This thesis begins with a discussion a historical look at juries, the media, and pretrial publicity and its relationship with the idea of an impartial jury. Next, an overview is given of the judicial remedies available to courts in combating the external influences of the media and the public on a jury. Then, this thesis turns to a discussion of what an impartial jury looks like in the age of "tweets" and "likes," highlighting how changes in technology have put external influences in the palms of most jurors today. The author then provides examples of recent cases involving juror misconduct stemming from social media posts or other online activity, followed by a summary of how this problem is currently being dealt with in jurisdictions across the country and scholarly critiques of those potential tools. This thesis next turns to an exploration of whether online juror speech has First Amendment value and whether it is deserving of robust First Amendment protection. Finally, the author proposes that in order to balance speech which has First Amendment value with a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, that courts evaluate online juror misconduct cases utilizing the framework set forth by the Supreme Court in its pretrial publicity jurisprudence.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2013. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Amy Kristin Sanders. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 77 pages.
Miller, Holly Anne.
#Jurormisconduct, but #sameoldpretrialpublicity: a proposal for the use of Supreme Court pretrial publicity precedent in shaping jurisprudence involving juror use of social media.
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