A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Facebook

Judge throws the (Face)book at Juror

By Russell Smith

The Associated Press is reporting that a Michigan court ordered 20-year-old juror Hadley Jons to pay $250 and write a five-page essay on the Sixth Amendment for updating her Facebook friends on her thoughts about a trial before it was over.

The defense attorney’s 17-year-old son was checking out Ms. Jons’s Facebook page when he discovered this post: “actually excited for jury duty tomorrow. It’s gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re GUILTY.  : P.”

Judge Diane Druzinski did not “like” the post. The Macomb Circuit Court’s rules of conduct for jurors makes it clear that jurors are “not to discuss the case with your family, friends, acquaintances” during the trial. Accordingly, Judge Druzinski removed Ms. Jons from the jury and leveled civil penalties for contempt of court..

Even though Ms. Jons did not get to revel in the “fun” of handing down a guilty verdict, the rest of the jurors did. The day after Ms. Jons’s removal, the jury found the defendant guilty of felony resisting arrest. Although the media didn’t discuss it, this raised the question in the minds of our reporters whether Ms. Jons may have discussed the verdict with other jurors before the end of trial. If she did, Judge Druzinski may owe the defendant a new trial. (more…)

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Arrested In Evesham Township, NJ? See Ya’ on Facebook!

By Paul Irlando

Being arrested can hardly be a happy experience.  In addition to being locked up in a small cell with a stranger and having to call a friend, or worse, your parents to bail you out, comes the shame of standing accused of committing a criminal act.  But as reported by CNET.com, the Police Department in Evesham Township, New Jersey, tacks on one more blow: Facebook infamy.

Last month, the Department started posting arrest photographs of people charged with drunk driving on its Facebook page.  As a result, any Facebook user worldwide can visit the Evesham Township Police Department page (which has already amassed over 6,000 followers) and view photos of individuals arrested for DUI, along with their name and age.  While shoplifters, burglars, and drug users have had their pictures posted since the Department created its Facebook page seven months ago, the decision to add DUI photos stirred so much controversy that the Department took them down as it awaits a “legal interpretation” from Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi as to whether the photos, a matter of public record, nevertheless should not be posted because DUI is a motor vehicle rather than a criminal offense.

In the meantime, photos of people arrested for other crimes remain on the Department’s Facebook page, and many arrestees are arguing that their reputations and careers were negatively impacted by their crimes being heralded on Facebook –before they were even convicted.  They are not the only ones concerned. (more…)

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Unlike Trix, Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids…

By Chris Cotter

Social media is the new black. As of September, Facebook boasted 88.3 million unique US users (a surprising 38% of whom are over 35). From February 2008 through February 2009, Twitter’s user base grew  a whopping 1382%. And if you’ve spent more than ten minutes on the web, you already know that there’s a blog for just about everything you can imagine. What’s funny is, we Americans would sooner give a kidney than our “sensitive” personal information. Yet, many of us freely post photos, videos and comments all over social media platforms, just as freely as we shake hands. Every day, millions of Americans delightedly navigate websites of great social and political import, blissfully unaware of the digital autobiography they are leaving behind. But while they may not be cognizant of the value of their interactions with the web, some very powerful people are, and as an attorney, you should be too.

DecisionQuest, Inc. provides a number of litigation support services to law firms, one of which is jury research. On November 17, one of DecisionQuest’s “social media experts,” Christine Martin came to speak at New York Law School about how social media research can help during the jury selection phase of litigation.

(more…)

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