Monday, September 12, 2011

Motivations for Juror Misconduct

Social scientitsts have begun to comment on what motivates jurors to do Internet research, blog or "tweet during trial.  Most jurors "want to get it right." They have become accustomed to:
   A.   Having instant access to any information they want from a search engine like Google;
   B.  Obtaining this information without a middleman, such as a travel agent or salesperson;
   C.  Discussing every detail of their lives and the lives of others on social media sites such as Facebook.

Jurors also are subject to the effects of "reactive theory," that is, that they covet (want) the information the judge and lawyers tell them they cannot have, ie. the forbidden fruit.   Some jurors may be offended that the judges and lawyers, who they perceive are in an exclusive Club, are "spoon-feeding" them information only as allowed under their rules of evidence.   Jurors may think everything on the Internet should be accessible because "it must be's on the Internet!"

How do judges deal with this phenomenon?  Explain...explain...and explain some more.   Judges should not just tell the jurors that these are the rules because I say so!   Judges should explain that the rules have developed over several centuries and are meant to insure that all parties involved have a fair trial.