Monday, November 7, 2011

Should Jurors Be Permitted to Do Independent Research?

A thought-provoking article suggesting that task forces be appointed to consider the issues surrounding the "wired juror" may be found at  (Go to March 2011 issue, then search Blackman and Brickman)  (Title: Let's Talk: Addressing the Challenges of Internet-Era Jurors)  The authors raise a multitude of questions and acknowledge the great complexity of the issues.  One question:  should the courts allow jurors to satisfy their "itch to know" (ie. Googling terms) while at the same time quelling their "itch to tell?"(ie using Facebook)  Jurors could be instructed that what they find by Googling must be given lesser weight.

I like the quote from the winner of a 2010 law school legal writing contest (at p. 3):

A major question is whether the protective cocoon we want to preserve of the courtroom trial, where jurors calmly and dispassionately receive only relevant and reliable information based on evidentiary rules...can viably be maintained in the face of the informational tsunami pressing against it."  (Gareth Lacy, U of Washington)

We need to start discussing this question rather than just try to fight the informational tsunami.

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